By Henry Umoru
THE Senate yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare bandits who have been engaging in massive killing, wanton destruction of property and kidnapping across the country as terrorists and declare total war against them.
It also asked President Buhari to ensure there was bombing of all locations of bandits in order to annihilate and eliminate them.
The Upper Chamber equally called on the Federal Government to declare all the known leaderships of the bandits wanted, track them for arrest and prosecution, especially those operating in Sokoto East senatorial district.
It asked the Federal Government to direct the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA and other relevant Federal Government agencies to urgently give all the necessary support to the victims of the menace of banditry in Sokoto and other parts of the country.
The Senate observed a minute silence in honour of the fallen heroes and civilians who lost their lives in the unwholesome activities of bandits.
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion, titled ” Banditry in Sokoto State, particularly Sokoto East Senatorial District”, sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir, All Progressives Congress, APC, Sokoto East and cosponsored by Senators Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, APC, Sokoto North; Ibrahim Danbaba, PDP, Sokoto South; Abdullahi Barkiya, APC, Katsina Central and Mohammed Sani Musa, APC, Niger East.
Others were Senators Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South; Bala Ibn Na’allah, APC, Kebbi South; Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, APC, Niger North; and Ya’u Sahabi, APC, Zamfara North.
Senator Gobir, who came under Order 42/52 of the Senate Standing Orders, said Sokoto East senatorial district had now become a safe haven for bandits due to the current crackdown taking place in Zamfara State.
He said the situation had become of serious concern, especially after bandits on September 25, killed 21 security personnel, including 15 soldiers, three mobile policemen, three members of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, at Dama and Gangara villages.
Gobir, who noted that it had become worrisome that losing such number of trained security personnel would further deplete the numerical strength of the security personnel in the country, said the wanton loss of security personnel had further jeopardized the security architecture of the country.
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He expressed worry that most of the bandits had now relocated to Sabon Birni and Isa Local Government Areas in Sokoto due to the sustained military operations at the Zamfara axis.
The senator said while the crackdown on the bandits was taking place in Zamfara State, no concrete measures had been put in place in Sokoto state to contain the fallouts.
Senator Gobir said: The Senate notes that Sokoto East senatorial district has now become a safe haven for bandits due to the current crackdown taking place in Zamfara State;
“It is further worried that most of the bandits have now relocated to Sabon Birni and Isa Local Governments due to the sustained military operations at the Zamfara axis;
“Concerned that while the crackdown on the bandits was taking place in Zamfara State, no concrete measures have been taken in Sokoto State leaving it totally exposed to the activities of the Bandits.‘‘
‘‘The present military onslaught on the bandits is not well co-ordinated because it is only being orchestrated in Zamfara State instead of all the front line states ravaged by banditry, i.e. Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna states.
”The operation should be holistic instead of restrictive in order to produce effective and the desired results.”
In her contribution, Senator Uche Ekwunife, PDP, Anambra Central, who decried the rising state of banditry and other forms of insecurity across the country, said that governments must rise up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties.
She said the time had come for President Muhammadu Buhari and the executive arm of government to address the nation on the rising trend of insecurity in the country.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, commended the efforts of the Armed Forces in the sustained fight against insecurity in the country.
While calling for increased funding for the military, Lawan tasked relevant committees of the National Assembly to ensure that funds appropriated to the armed forces were judiciously applied for the purpose they wee budgeted.
“Distinguished colleagues, I think the issue of insecurity is one we will never get tired of debating here, and we must commend our Armed Forces and other security agencies.
“They give their lives in trying to secure this country, and that is the ultimate sacrifice anybody could pay. I believe that they are doing their best, but we also need to do our best as a government by giving them the kind of resources that they need.
“I believe we have done that in the supplementary budget. As I pointed out earlier, we also need to improve the annual appropriation for them.
“If we could pass over N800 billion in the supplementary budget, I don’t see why we cannot improve the resources up to N1 trillion and then hold our security agencies accountable. And I believe we need to monitor the procurement processes when we give such kind of resources to our Armed Forces.
“The security related committees, particularly the armed forces related committees – Defence, Army, Navy and Airforce Committees need to work very closely on the procurement processes by these services.
“We must ensure that funds appropriated are not put in the wrong areas, and ensure that this fight is taken to its logical conclusion.
The Senate, accordingly, in its resolutions, urged the President to declare bandits as terrorists and wage total war against them, including bombing all their locations to annihilate and eliminate them.
Vanguard News Nigeria