In a rare display of courage and in what stakeholders regard as bowing to public pressure, the senate has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, declare bandits as terrorists and wage total war against them.
This is even as some stakeholders like Major General Henry Ayoola, former commander, operation Safe Havens and Mike Ejiofor, former director of Department of States Services, DSS, have called on Buhari to save the nation and act swiftly by commencing the necessary legal procedures and processes.
Speaking on Politics Today, Channels Television night programme on Wednesday, the duo were unanimous in their submissions that the action was long overdue.
For instance, Ayoola, says the action will increases local and international support, strip the insurgents of the usual civilian support.
Expressing happiness over the call by the senate Ayoola said the implication is that the executive has been prompted and prodded to take action, stressing that this will also boost morale of the army. He faulted the current practice of granting amnesty to some insurgents while the war is still raging adding that the request if faithfully implemented will bring about decisive action against the insurgents.
Ejiofor, equally faulted government’s inaction saying it was unfortunate. According to him both the bandits and insurgents have common goal with the Boko Haram of destabilizing governments and killing people, wondering why the foot-dragging by the government.
According to him the delay has led to loss of confidence by both the local and international observers in the country, adding that the action of amnesty while war is going on could be frustrating and counterproductive
Also, the upper chamber urged the President to give orders to the military to eliminate them by bombing their hideouts.
The Senate also asked President Buhari to immediately declare all known leadership of the bandits wanted, and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
These formed part of resolutions reached on Wednesday after the chamber considered a motion on banditry in Sokoto during plenary.
The motion was sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East).
Presenting his motion, the lawmaker lamented that Sokoto East Senatorial District has now become a safe haven for bandits, following a crackdown on them by the military in Zamfara.
He expressed worry that on Saturday 25th September, 2021, twenty one (21) Security Personnel were killed in Dama and Gangara villages by rampaging bandits.
The lawmaker disclosed that out of those killed, 15 of them were soldiers, 3 mobile police and 3 members of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, in addition to yet to be ascertained number of civilians from the neighboring villages.
“This has gone to portray the seriousness of the problem which requires concerted and urgent action by the declaration of total war on banditry”, he said.
According to Gobir, “losing such numbers of trained security personnel will further deplete the numerical strength of the security personnel we have in the country, therefore jeopardizing the security architecture of the country.”
He added that most of the bandits have now relocated to Sabon Bimini and Isa local Government due to the sustained military operation at the Zamfara axis.
The lawmaker observed that while the crackdown on the bandits was taking place in Zamfara state, no concrete measures have so far been taken in Sokoto State, leaving it totally exposed to the activities of bandits.
He further expressed worry that 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 bandits.
Gobir, therefore, called on the military to carry out a holistic operation on frontline states such as Sokoto, Katsina, Niger and Kaduna in order to produce effective and the desired results.
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, the Senate President tasked relevant Committees of the National Assembly to ensure that funds appropriated to the armed forces are judiciously applied for the purpose for which they are budgeted.
“Distinguished colleagues, I think the issue of insecurity is one issue 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 like pointed out, but 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 that 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 and Commander in Chief to declare the bandits as Terrorists and wage total war against them, including bombing all their location to annihilate and eliminate them.
It also urged President Buhari to declare all known leadership of the bandits wanted and track them wherever they are for arrest and prosecution.
The chamber also directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant Federal Government agencies to, as a matter of urgency, give all the necessary support to the victims of the menace of bandits in Sokoto and other parts of the country.
It also observed a minute silence in honor of the fallen heroes and civilians who lost their lives in the unwholesome activities of the bandits.