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Insecurity: Tearful Ortom, Reps, call for emergency

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17 killed, others injured as herdsmen militia attack parts of Guma LG…Gov Ortom weeps as armed militia invade Benue IDPs camp, kill 7, injure 9

…Benue youths lay corpses on Makurdi-Lafia road, threaten reprisals

…Calls on Buhari to declare emergency on security

…Nigeria walking to its end — MBF

…Declare state of emergency on security now, Reps tell Buhari

…Buhari meets Zulum, Tinubu, Akande in Aso Rock; urges US to relocate AFRICOM headquarters to Africa

…I’m in Aso Rock to tell Buhari the truth – Zulum

…Army to sue those sharing photos of slain soldiers on social media

By Peter Duru & Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The House of  Representatives, and a tearful governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom yesterday called on the Federal Government to urgently declare a state of emergency on security in the country.

The House and Governor Ortom’s calls came against the backdrop of killing of no fewer than seven Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in an attack on the Abagena IDPs camp located on the outskirts of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, in the early hours of yesterday by suspected armed herdsmen militia.

Buhari had also on Monday night met behind closed doors with Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum, National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the pioneer interim national chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, at the State House over the security situation in the country, with the governor declaring he was in Aso Rock to tell the President the truth on the situation in his state.

This is even as President Buhari emerged from a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, yesterday, asking the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.

This, he added, they could do by relocating AFRICOM Headquarters to Africa to coordinate security in West Africa.

Declare emergency on security now, Reps tell Buhari

Piqued by the daily killings and kidnappings of Nigerians across the country, the House of Representatives yesterday called on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.

The House held a three-hour executive session, from where the lawmakers unanimously adopted a series of resolutions.

Emerging from the meeting, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, read out the resolutions, parts of which the House condemned the attacks on security personnel and formations around the country and sympathised with families of victims.

The House reiterated its commitment in ensuring that the country is secure, while announcing its resolve to organise a special security summit, and invite the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, retd.; service chiefs, heads of paramilitary agencies and NIGCOMSAT. The House also resolved:

“The President should immediately declare emergency on security sector.”

It also called on the judiciary to accelerate trials of suspected terrorists, bandits and other criminals.

While asking all security committees to immediately audit arms and ammunition of security agencies within four weeks, the House stated that the number of personnel in the Police and military fell far short of what is required to effectively secure the country, and called for an immediate recruitment of security operatives.

 ‘Attack on Benue IDPs camp took place at 2am’

Vanguard gathered that the  unprovoked attack on the IDP camp with over 21,000 IDPs, which took place at about 2am yesterday and  left nine of the traumatized IDPs with serious injuries, compelled Governor Samuel Ortom who could not hold back tears as he addressed angry Benue youths, to call on President Buhari to declare an emergency on the security situation in the country.

The youths had made bonfires on the Makurdi-Lafia road, laying the corpses of the dead on the highway, and threatening to carry out reprisal attacks.

The governor also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his responsibility of protecting Nigerians, describing the attack as inhuman, barbaric and unacceptable.

Ortom, who called for urgent action against the activities of militia herdsmen across the country, said if the Federal Government had taken the issue of militia herders seriously, it wouldn’t have escalated to this level.

He lamented that in the last two weeks, over 70 persons had been killed in Makurdi, Guma and Gwer West Local Government Areas, LGAs, while various communities across Benue were suffering from same militia herdsmen.

More than 70 killed in 2 weeks — Ortom

The governor said: “From what is happening, within the last two weeks, we have lost more than 70 people within the local governments of Makurdi, Guma, and Gwer West alone, in addition to what you are seeing here today.

“Many are in the hospital apart from the seven that died in the attack on the IDPs camp by these herdsmen militia.

“I want to say that we are being overstretched. Our patience and preaching of rule of law is being overstretched. You can see that the people are fed up. Mr. President must rise.

“He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the President of the over 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. They voted him, we all voted him.

“Mr. President, you took an oath of office to secure the lives and property of the people. This is unacceptable, this cannot continue. Mr. President cannot continue to be aloof. Mr. President must rise to address the nation himself, not his aides.

“Mr. President must tell us where we are headed in this country. This is too much. We are being overstretched and this is not acceptable. The body language, the action and inaction of Mr. President shows that he is only the President of Fulani people.

“I have warned over this. I have written to him and I have written to security agencies that Miyetti Allah anchored a meeting in Yola and threatened that unless we repeal the open grazing prohibition law, nobody would know peace. That they will kill, they will maim, they will rape and do all sorts of things and they have started doing it. And it is amazing that we are becoming a banana republic.

“If we have a President and Mr. President gives order to security agencies to shoot on sight whosoever is having AK-47, and then the Minister of Defence came out to say that you cannot shoot on sight, that those people should be prosecuted, then I ask, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?

“So this kind of game, these lies, these falsehoods that are being played out is not acceptable. It is better for me not to be alive to see this kind of shame of leadership. What is going on? Nigerians, my colleagues the governors must arise and impress on the president to call a security summit, if possible ensure that a state of emergency is declared on security so that all hands will be on deck to address this matter.

“From what is happening now, it is very clear that Mr. President is just working for these Fulanis to take over this country. His body language is what is being played out; Mr President gives orders, another person, a minister comes and counters. Is it not a shame?

“Just like the First Lady said sometimes ago, where are the men in this country? That is the President’s wife coming out to lament and cry and say that Nigerians should rise, that something is wrong.

“The President must tell us what is wrong with him so that we can all help him. I want to call on my colleagues, the governors, because after the President, it is the governors, we must work hard to ensure that we salvage this country. Otherwise, this country is drowning and we must salvage it, or else we will wake up one day and there will be no country.

“You can imagine if I was not there in Abagena, that major road (Makurdi-Lafia) was blocked. You can imagine what would have happened. We cannot allow youths to take over the place and that is what they are agitating for now. And we know that a goat does not bite, but when it is pushed to the wall, it bites.

‘We are fed up’

“We are fed up, we don’t want to resort to self-help; we believe in the unity of this country and that is what I have been preaching, but we are being overstretched.  Even these attacks started earlier, they were planned, the point is this federal government is not being proactive. Don’t we have DSS and the Police investigating team again?

“Even when I mentioned Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, and asked that the president and the secretary should be arrested. I was told they invited him, they asked him if he was planning to kill Ortom and the man said no and they said okay, you can go. What kind of a thing is that? What kind of a country are we? Where are we heading?

“Honestly, it is better for me not to be alive than to witness this shame that is happening in Nigeria today under the watchful eyes of Mr. President.

“This is not right. I am not the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. It is his responsibility to ensure security of lives and properties. I can only support, and meanwhile that is what I have been doing.”

Nigeria walking to an end — MBF

Reacting, the President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, worldwide, Chief Iorbee Ihagh, said it was the height of madness and callousness for the herdsmen militia to invade an IDPs camp in the state.

“This is unacceptable, we are asking the President and his security chiefs to come and remove these armed herdsmen from Benue State because they are pushing Benue to wall.”

On his part, the National President of Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, warned that the country was gradually walking towards its end and the Federal Government seemed helpless.

“When all these killings started, we were all raising alarm but till date, the government as usual failed in its responsibilities to nip it in the bud.

“Governor Ortom has also been raising alarm and calling on the Federal Government to do the right thing but the government failed to pay attention to him.

“Today an IDPs’ camp has been attacked and people killed. It is unfortunate that we have got to this point. These are signs that we are heading towards the end of our country if something is not done urgently, it is, indeed, sad.”

The Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Benson Abounu, who visited the injured at Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, disclosed that among the nine injured attack were two children of three years old, stressing that they were responding to treatment.

“There is one that is most likely to loose her arm because of the cut. It’s just hanging there. The doctors are trying to see if the veins are alive and if it could be reattached,” Abounu said.

READ ALSO: Declare state of emergency on security now, PDP tells Buhari

Reacting, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Dr. Emmanuel Shior, appealed to Nigerians to come to the aid of the state.

Dr. Shior warned that the state faces the prospect of further attacks on IDPs camps and appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to allow establishment of police check points close to IDPs camps across the state.

Buhari meets Zulum, Tinubu, Akande in Aso Rock

However, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday night met with the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum on the security Situation in his state.

He also net with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the pioneer interim national Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande in State House.

President Buhari’s meeting with the Borno State governor was held at the official residence in Aso Rock.

The agenda of the meeting was not made public but it may be in connection with the recent worsening security situation in Borno State.

Besides, the agenda of the meeting with chieftains of APC, Asiwaju Tinubu and Pa Bisi Akande was also not made public.

I’m in Aso Rock to tell Buhari the truth — Zulum 

However, emerging from the meeting, Governor Zulum told State House correspondents that he was at the Villa to tell the President the truth about the security situation in his state, which he noted had got worse, with repeated killings of soldiers and civilians.

While noting that the situation is pathetic, Zulum emphasized the need for support to help the area to get rid of insurgents.

Lamenting that hundreds of people had fled their homes, Zulum said: “In Borno, particularly, Brigade headquarters was attacked, many soldiers, men and officers of the Nigerian Army were killed. Let me use this opportunity to extend my condolences to the families of the deceased. God, in His infinite wisdom, forgive them.

“I think it is my own responsibility to come and say the truth to Mr. President; let him know what is going on in the entire North-East sub-region.

“I think there is the need for us to get support to succeed in this war against insurgents. It’s very pathetic. A few days ago, Damasak was attacked, hundreds of people started fleeing and now Geidam is almost deserted. Many people have left Geidam.”

On the cause of the continuing deteriorating security situation in the North-East, Governor Zulum said: “I think the military is yet to receive some of the equipment the Federal Government has ordered.”

Buhari asks US to relocate AFRICOM hq to

Also yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari pleaded with  the international community to support Nigeria and the sub-region in tackling growing security challenges to avoid spillovers.

To this end, the President urged the United States to reconsider relocating US Africa Command, AFRICOM, from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, nearer the theatre of operation.

Buhari, who made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mr. Anthony Blinken, said AFRICOM, which partners countries to counter transnational threats, should be relocated to Africa to strengthen ongoing efforts to check the security situation, with likely effect on other nations.

The President according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said: “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad region.

“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes. The support of important and strategic partners like United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.

“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM Headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”

He said Nigeria will enhance collaborations in all forms, with friends and strategic partners, to work together for greater security for all, which remain the most significant condition for overcoming the existential challenges.

The President congratulated Blinken on his appointment by President Joe Biden, and commended the United States for the decision to repeal the immigration restriction known as the “Muslim ban”, re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

He said: “Nigeria attaches great importance to its relations with the United States. Let me in this connection express appreciation to President Joe Biden for his welcome and reaching decision to repeal the Immigration restriction known as the ‘Muslim ban’ on travel and visas for citizens predominantly from Muslim Nations and African Countries, including Nigeria.

“I also wish to congratulate the United States for re-joining the World Health Organization (WHO) and Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The leadership of the United States in these two organizations is crucial for international community.

“This action is a demonstration of the United States commitment in championing and supporting international organizations with the aim to build a better world for all.”

Army rages against sharing photos of slain soldiers in social media

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has threatened to take legal actions against those sharing photos of slain troops on social media, Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, has said.

Photos and videos of soldiers killed in Rivers, Borno and other states by insurgents and criminals had surfaced lately on social media.

However, in a statement yesterday, the Army condemned in strong terms the indiscriminate sharing on social media of graphic pictures of personnel who paid the supreme price in the cause of defending and protecting the country from its adversaries”.

The statement, titled, “Protest Against Indiscriminate And Insensitive Sharing Of Graphic Pictures Of Kill-In-Action Soldiers On Social Media” read: “Officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army deployed to various theatres of internal security operations are on legitimate duties and are in the harm’s way to defend and protect the country from those who are intent on destroying it.

“In the course of carrying out this constitutional mandate, troops put their lives on the line to ensure that innocent citizens and institutions of the state are protected from violent criminals. In some cases, these gallant officers and soldiers are meted with the worst form of savagery by the heartless adversaries whose intent is to instill fear on of the citizenry.

“While the Nigerian Army and its personnel understand the nature of the noble calling and are ever ready to confront any danger of adversity on the way, what is most unfathomable is the glee with which some people share the gory pictures of officers and soldiers who are either killed-in-action or wounded-in-action in the media.

“These unpatriotic acts are often done without any modicum of consideration for the memories of the departed personnel or their family members. In some cases, their loved ones do find out about their unfortunate death in such callous manner before they are even contacted by the military authorities.

“One can only imagine the trauma and pain such families go through waking up to see the gory pictures of their loved ones splashed on the social media.

“The Nigerian Army consider this despicable and unpatriotic act totally unacceptable and will henceforth take legal actions to protect troops who die in action from being ridiculed on social media or any platform.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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