By Okey Ndiribe, Emman Ovuakporie & SIMON EBEGBULEM
ABUJA—Following the brazen manner with which gunmen attacked both military and police facilities in Abuja and Jaji few days ago, killing soldiers, policemen and civilians alike, members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, declared the National Assembly complex unsafe.
The alarm raised by the lawmakers is due to worsening security situation in the country.
The lawmakers in a motion of urgent national importance said insecurity had reached a level where no security facility was safe again.
Hon Abubakar Momoh who led the debate said the Tuesday robbery in Auchi, Edo State which claimed the lives of three soldiers, some policemen and civilians, clearly showed that insecurity in the country was getting out of hand.
In a similar vein, Hon Raphael Nnanna said the successful operation by gunmen who invaded the headquarters of Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) inAbujahas shown that the security personnel lacked the capacity to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.
He explained that the invasion of SARS came less than 24 hours after a Church at Command andStaffCollege, Jaji,KadunaStatewas bombed by gunmen. 17 people were reportedly killed and several others injured.
He said: “The state of insecurity in the country has reached an embarrassing level. What happened in Jaji and SARS headquarters is embarrassing to the leadership and people of this nation”.
He argued that if the gunmen could operate and go unhurt at the premises of security agents, they could also invade the National Assembly. “I see these people coming to the National Assembly very soon”, he warned and cautioned on the far-reaching implication of allowing the current trend to continue.
In his contribution, Hon Samson Osagie (Edo,ACN) said the Federal Government must come up with a realistic strategy on how to check the bandits, noting that, “we can’t afford to fold our hands and watch these people kill and maim people the way they are doing”.
Hon Jerry Alagbaso advised security agents to step up intelligence gathering even as he called for immediate supply of sophisticated arms to security personnel to enable them confront bandits.
He said: “Government must improve the sophistication of arms that our security agents use, that is the only way they can overcome the current challenge and our security must improve on intelligence gathering”.
Steps down bill on sack of ministers, commissioners
The House also, yesterday, stepped down a bill seeking to compel the President and governors to get the consent of the Senate and the House of Assembly before relieving a minister or commissioner of his or her appointment.
The bill was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 to provide for the consent of the Senate/State Houses of Assembly for the removal of a Minister of the Government of the Federation/Commissioner of the Government of a State and other matters related thereto’.
Banks, shops remain shut in Auchi
Meanwhile, following the Monday mayhem in Auchi,EdoStateby armed bandits, which led to the death of fifteen persons including three soldiers, the Chairman of the Bankers Forum, Auchi Branch, has vowed that banks in the area will remain closed to customers until security is guaranteed.
All the banks in Auchi and several shops remained closed yesterday, while soldiers were observed at Jattu junction and strategic areas in Auchi.
It was a pitiable sight for the police in the area following the burning of the Area Command office and the Auchi Division of the Police Force. The police in the area are now homeless and were seen in groups lamenting the situation.
Though residents thronged Jattu market to purchase foodstuff, but several shops and super markets were still under lock and key as they were afraid that the robbers may still be in town.
A rice vendor who identified herself as Mrs Momodu, explained that the people of the area were still shocked because “what we saw was like another civil war”. Explaining her encounter with the robbers, she said that “one of them came to me that day, asking where are the soldiers, where are the soldiers. I told them I don’t know where they stay.
“So they now asked why was I still selling food when they were operating, I said I am sorry. They slapped me and started shooting in the air. So from what we saw that Monday, it will still take us time to come out for our normal businesses unless we see soldiers in town.
The truth is that the kind of gun they came with, we don’t even believe they are criminals, some of us are suspecting Boko Haram because the way they were asking about the residence of soldiers was scary”.
We ‘ll catch the culprits — Police
However, the Acting Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Hurdi Muhammad, who addressed newsmen late yesterday, vowed that the police will apprehend the perpetrators.
According to him, “we cannot disclose what we are doing but I can assure you that we are taking this matter with all seriousness and with time, all those involved will be apprehended”.
Vanguard, however, learnt that the banks have refused to open to customers because the police in the state had failed to provide the needed security in Auchi. It was learnt that policemen in Auchi no longer wear their uniforms fearing that the armed bandits may strike again.
According to one of them who craved anonymity, “you can see that we don’t even have an office now because every where has been blown up. We don’t even have the fire power to face people like this, so what do you expect from the police? We are really helpless and it is sad, we have been complaining about this problem for a long time but no body listened.
“When you don’t have sophisticated weapons like the criminals, how do you intend to fight them? In the whole of Auchi, we only have two APCs and this is the area that they always attack. Why don’t the people in charge equip the police properly to fight crime?”
The chairman of the Bankers Forum Auchi branch, Mr Bash Sanusi, who disclosed the resolve of banks in the area not to open to customers, attributed their travail to the inefficiency of the police and other security agencies in Auchi.
His words: “For now we are not opening because there is no security. We are going to meet Tuesday next week to access the situation. Even the minimum security that is policemen being in the banks, we don’t have. Under such circumstance we cannot open. There is no kind of security to guarantee that what happened last Monday will not happen again.
“It is beyond imagination. No body ever thought of such thing, since the soldiers have been parading here, we had full confidence that their presence will ward off such criminals. But we were all shocked that they disabled the military, they were every where at the same time operating. It was so disastrous. The police and the SSS are weak. We have no intelligence system, if not, they would have known that these people will strick.
“These people must have been around for two weeks and they must have been visiting bars. We have no intelligence here, without information we cannot be safe. We have no good intelligence system if not they would have nibbed this in the bud. Unemployment is also part of the problem; the people doing this are young men because they have no jobs.
“Even though criminality is not good but the government should create employment to stop this type of crime. Government must as a matter of urgency create employment for youths. So as it is now, we are not going to open to customers, we need security in Auchi”, he stated.
Robbers kill four-yr-old girl, policeman in Benin
Meanwhile, a mobile policeman was shot dead, yesterday, when dare devil armed robbers invaded Akpakpava and 2nd East Circular roads ofBenin City,EdoState.
A four-year-old girl was also killed at Akpakpava by a stray bullet.
There is tension inBenin Citynow over fears that the robbers, who invaded Auchi may have stormed the ancient city.
At press time, armedMobilepolicemen have stormedAkpakpava Roadand other exit roads in search of those who fell their colleague.
Also, an Estate Valuer, Mr. Dan Odiete was reportedly adopted on the same road inBenin, yesterday.