*More Nigerians’ll get arms for self defence if govt fails to mop up arms — JNI
*Pope Francis condemns Zabarmari killings, prays for Nigeria
*Buhari has agreed to address Reps – Gbajabiamila
By Luminous Jannamike, Charly Agwam, Ibrahim HassanWuyo
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, said Tuesday that the military has been completely overwhelmed by the security challenges currently facing the country.
The governors also expressed frustration at the manner the 43 rice farmers were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents who beheaded them and kept their severed heads behind their backs.
The NGF’s declaration came as the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, warned yesterday that the nation will continue to witness rise in arms proliferation for self-defence if the Federal Government fails to mop up small and light arms and weapons in circulation, just as the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis yesterday condemned the killing of the farmers and called on God to intervene in Nigeria’s security challenges.
Also, angry northern youths, under the umbrella of Youths Progressive Alliance (northern zone) yesterday blast Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, over remarks credited to him that the slain farmers did not obtain clearance from the military before going to their farms.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to appear before House, following members summon on him on Tuesday to appear.
Military overwhelmed — GOVS
Speaking while he led a delegation of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, on a condolence visit to Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, over the killing of 43 rice farmers by Boko Haram, chairman of the NGF and govern or of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, said the military was overwhelmed in the handling of Nigeria’s security challenges.
Fayemi, who noted that efforts to tackle insecurity must involve local communities, described the manner the farmers were killed as “by far beyond any imagination.”
He said: “It was a massacre and it was one that none of us could come to terms with easily. As a security scholar, the reality I can see is that our military is overwhelmed. Our military is no longer in a position to single-handedly tackle this menace effectively.
“It is not a criticism of our military; if one were to suggest a coalition, that will even include our neighbouring countries who are probably more experienced in fighting asymmetrical wars. It will not be a loss of our pride as a country.”
The NGF chairman said the governors were in Borno as “an expression of our own frustration.
“We can’t bring back the people we have lost in the last couple of days, but if we do not take the necessary steps the entire nation will be consumed by this insurgency.”
‘Acts of terrorism now new trend’
JNI in a statement, entitled “Requiem for Zabarmari,” signed by the Secretary-General of JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, said the Sultan said much of the violent crimes which had manifested in insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, among others, in the country had their roots in the proliferation of small and light weapons, noting that the earlier they were mopped up the better for the country.
Lamenting the killing of rice farmers in Borno, the JNI described their beheading as a senseless act which must be condemned in the strongest terms.
The statement read: “Wanton killings, acts of banditry, kidnapping for ransom, high rate of unemployment among the youths, rape and all forms of terrorism have now become the ‘new trend’ in our communities.
“Nigerians have become so much terrified, as nowhere is safe; the home, the farms and the roads. Bandits now rule in many communities, they set rules that must be obeyed. Unfortunately, the common man is now caught between two contending phenomena — when he goes to the farm, he gets killed and when he stays at home he dies of hunger.
“It should be known that this singular act of Zabarmari was a calculated attempt to instill fear in the farmers and jeopardize the frantic efforts of returning Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, to their localities by Borno State government under the leadership of Governor Babagana Umar Zulum.
“For how long would we continue to live in fear? For how long can we continue to wait in vain? For how long, shall we continue to condemn acts of terrorism without any concerted efforts in ending it? For how long would we continue to remain indolent? And for how long can we continue to remain hopeless in a precarious situation such as what we are in presently?
“Our heartrending condolences to the families of those martyred in the Zabarmari massacre, the people and government of Borno State and Nigeria in general. Moreover, all that was needed immediately the incident occurred was a proactive measure(s)by the Federal Government, such as a prompt visit within 24 hours to the affected areas.
“This will assuage the affected communities to have more confidence in their leaders, seeing that they are not left alone in their ordeal and it will also send a strong signal to insurgents that the government is ready to go to any length to protect its people.
“In this light, we appreciate the tireless efforts of the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Umar Zulum. May Allah, the Most High, continue to guide and protect him, being a true servant leader.
‘What FG must do now’
“We nevertheless, once again call on the Federal Government to rise to its responsibilities and do well beyond the traditional condemnation, as lip service(s) on security matters should stop. Nigerians are desperately yearning for concrete actions. Thus, we call on government to: •Always identify with victims and places of attacks by being physically on ground to commiserate with the people; a national broadcast after the visit is very necessary.
- Reprimand/prosecute officials that are found wanting in the discharge of their assignment(s), so as to serve as deterrent to other nonchalant officials; collaboration with relevant security agencies with a timeline to bringing an end or at best decapitate all security threats bedeviling the country and also mop small arms and light weapons, SALWs, in the hands of criminals or else Nigeria will continue to witness the rise in arms proliferation for self-defence among Nigerians since the government failed to do so.
- Spare no genuine effort to immediately provide support to all the affected communities, as many are now displaced, becoming internally displaced persons, IDPs, in their own land, which further speaks volumes, considering the attendant social nuances often associated with IDP camps.
Our worries, by JNI
“On the other hand, we note with dismay that our societal values have been relegated to alien norms, thus parents and community leaders must be very vigilant and always remain introspecting over their wards and/or children, as the prevalence of illicit drugs intake among the youths is getting out of hand.
“Child upbringing is a responsibility vested on each parent by Allah, failure of which spells doom to our collective responsibility.
“These and many more similar gestures may not immediately bring insurgency to an abrupt end, but will reassure the masses and calm frayed nerves, seeing that the authorities are truly on top of the situation, as it will bring hope and soothe the hearts. Not the exact opposite, being witnessed in recent years, which is providing fertile ground for citizens to harbour ill-feelings against the government of the day.”
Pope Francis asks God to intervene in Nigeria
Similarly, Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, yesterday called on God to intervene in the security challenges rocking Nigeria.
The Pope made the call in his remarks at the end of the Weekly General Audience, streamed live virtually from his library in The Vatican because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Referring to last Saturday’s killing of rice farmers at Zabarmari village in Borno State by Boko Haram, Pope Francis said: “I want to assure my prayers for Nigeria, where blood has unfortunately been spilled once more in a terrorist attack.”
He lamented the death of the farm workers, many of whom were beheaded while in their farms.
However, Pope Francis maintained that God still loved each person, including the criminals regardless of their faults.
“May God welcome them in His peace and comfort their families, and convert the hearts of those who commit similar atrocities which gravely offend His name,” the Pope prayed.
Northern youths berate Garba Shehu
In a related development, angry northern youths have condemned the statement made by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, that the farmers killed by Boko Haram ought not to have gone to their farms without clearance from the military.
Coordinator of the youth group, Barr. Hussaini Saraki, lamented at a briefing yesterday that the presidential spokesman lacked sympathy for the 43 victims who died as a result of government’s failure to protect them.
“How could he say that? Was it not the same government that said people can go about their businesses because it was in control? Why is he blaming innocent dead people whose only crime was looking for what to eat from the very farms they cultivated?
“I think there’s something wrong with him; he should apologize to the families of the 43 deceased victims.
“It is the primary responsibility of government to protect its citizens as contained in Section 14 sub-section 2(b) of the 1999 constitution. The killing of the innocent people in the North must be stopped, the government should find a means, however, possible to bring an end to these senseless killings.
READ ALSO: Attack on Zulum shocking, sad — Ortom
“We are sad about the gruesome and merciless killing of promising Nigerians in Zabarmari Town of Jere Local Government Area of Borno State,” Saraki said.
The youths flayed northern leaders over their silence while also urging President Buhari to implement the recommendations of Borno State governor by recruiting youths from the state into the Army.
“The entire North is bleeding and no one seems to care; the leaders among us have chosen to remain silent, watching over innocent people being slaughtered while thousands are displaced and made refugees in their own country.
“This was not part of the bargain made, neither is it supposed to be the dividends of democracy promised our people. We, therefore, want to make it categorically clear that the government should and must find a means to bring an end to all insecurity challenges bedevilling the North,” Saraki stated further.
Buhari’ll address Reps — Gbajabiamila
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has agreed to address the House of Representatives on the state of insecurity in the country, as requested by the lawmakers.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who disclosed yesterday, said a date had been agreed, which would soon be communicated.
He noted that the President was more concerned than most Nigerians about the insecurity of the nation and would speak to Nigerian people through their representatives.
Speaking on the agenda of the meeting, Gbajabiamila said: “What we basically sought is to convey the resolution of the House and to fix a date, which we did not fix out of respect for Mr. President and his very tight schedule, with regards to what date will be convenient. We have agreed on a date and he will meet with the House to address the situation.”
While noting that he would communicate the date to the media, Gbajabiamila added: “He’s a perfect democrat. He will come and address the House in the nearest future.”
On the feeling of the President on the worsening security situation in the country, the speaker said President Buhari was more worried and concerned than any other person in the country.
“I think he is more concerned than me or you, that is what I can say. You know they say uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. We will leave everything until he comes to the House.
“Let me not pre-empt him, but all I can tell you right now is that he is fully committed to the security and welfare of Nigerians.”
On what the President would be coming to do in the House, Gbajabiamila said: “He is coming to talk to Nigerians through the House. You know the House as we have it, is constituted for all of Nigeria. Every single constituency in this country is represented in the House.
“You shouldn’t look at it as Mr. President talking to the House, he is talking to Nigerians through their representatives.”
The decision to summon President Buhari was taken at Tuesday’s plenary when the House considered a motion moved by members from Borno State on the recent massacre of 43 rice farmers in the state by Boko Haram insurgents.
The debate had earlier turned rowdy after the speaker appealed that it would be inappropriate to invite the President to disclose the actions being taken towards handling the security situation in the country.