…Lawan, Gbajabiamila to meet Buhari over insecurity
…UN condemns killing of 81 civilians in Borno
By Henry Umoru, Ndahi Marama & Victoria Ojeme
PRESIDENT of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said yesterday that Boko Haram has now become a big industry and no longer the religious sect it claimed to be.
He said he came to the conclusion, having taken a cursory look at the group’s mode of operations and activities.
Lawan, who spoke after the presentation of a motion on the resurgence of killings in Borno North by Boko Haram insurgents, said the insurgent group now consists of people from different religions and countries.
The motion was sponsored by Senator Abubakar Kyari, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno North and co-sponsored by Senators Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno Central) and Ali Ndume (APC Borno South).
It came as the Senate resolved that its President (Lawan) and speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, should meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss security challenges arising from the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in parts of the country.
Lawan said: “Boko Haram has metamorphosed from a group of religious zealots into an industry. It is an industry because what they do is not religious. They have people from different faiths and countries who are part of Boko Haram.’’
Lawan, who lamented that the activities of Boko Haram were persisting, despite so many resolutions and efforts by the Senate to stop them, said: “This Senate passed so many resolutions, including the reports of the various ad-hoc committees we set up.
‘’Senator Kabiru Gaya once headed a committee on insecurity and he toured many parts of the northwest then. I also chaired another committee which organised public hearing attended by all the service chiefs but the problem has persisted.
“I don’t want to say meeting the President is something that we have to reveal if we do but, of course, it is natural that issues like these will be of interest for us to discuss with the President, and we have been doing that.
“What is necessary is for us to persist. Our Armed Forces have their challenges, and therefore, we will continue to look at those challenges and try to address them.
“However, where anybody is found wanting, our stand should be that people should occupy offices based on their performance.
“There’s no point if somebody is not registering successes for such person to continue to be there, but that is if you give that person the necessary tools to fight. So, we should give them the necessary tools and then hold them accountable.
“We will do that in addition to, of course, meeting Mr. President. It is not going to be the Senate President alone, I’ll make sure I have my colleague in the House of Representatives because this is a national question.”
Earlier, Kyari while relying on order 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules, lamented the killing of 90 persons, including women and children on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, by Boko Haram insurgents, following an attack on Foduma Kolum village of Gubio Local Government.
The lawmaker, who further bemoaned the resurgence of what he described as “senseless killings” by the insurgents in recent weeks, said 17 people were killed in Gajiagana in Magumeri Local Government Area on May 17, 2020; and another 33 persons killed in Nganzai Local Aovernment on May 22, 2020.
Kyari said: “These attacks are becoming very worrisome, in view of the fact that the Nigerian Armed Forces recently started recording successes in the fight against insurgency.
“These attacks which have led to the massacre of hundreds of people, also include cattle rustling, kidnapping, abduction and forcible displacement of people from their ancestral communities.”
In his contribution, former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, who lamented the inability of the Armed Forces to completely cripple insurgent activities in the North-East, however, said: “We have been doing this for the past 11 years, that is since 2009 when this started. In 2015, we had some kind of relief when this government took over. But it is not over until it is completely over.”
Accordingly, the Senate urged the Federal Government to direct, as a matter of urgency, the Nigerian Armed Forces and relevant security agencies to beef up personnel and equipment deployment to critical areas, especially in and around the Lake Chad shores in order to flush out the insurgents.
It also called on the Federal Government to direct the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and North East Development Commission, NEDC, to immediately send relief materials to the victims of the attacks.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, yesterday condemned the killing of 81 civilians in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, Kallon said: ‘’I am also receiving worrying reports that civilians were shot while trying to escape and that assailants set ablaze homes with civilians still inside as well as stole more than 1,000 heads of cattle.
“I vehemently condemn any and all acts of violence against innocent civilians who have been bearing the brunt of this decade-long conflict for too long, as well as aid workers who are risking their lives to help them. I call for the immediate and safe release of all aid workers and civilians who remain in captivity.”
‘’I am gravely concerned by the level and number of violent attacks recorded in recent weeks. I am also troubled by the widespread practice by non-state armed groups of setting up illegal checkpoints along main supply routes, which heighten risks for civilians to be abducted, killed or injured.
‘’Aid workers are directly impacted and the humanitarian community is disturbed by the news of possible abductions, including that of a camp manager from the Borno State Emergency Management Agency working in the northern Borno State town of Monguno, where tens of thousands of civilians are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance.
“I called on all actors on the ground to protect civilians and aid workers, and ensure the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable women, children and men, who desperately need relief, particularly at this crucial time when we are all scaling up efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.’’