By Ahuraka Isah and Sunday Isuwa
The Senate yesterday lamented the high level of insecurity in the country, noting that most roads in the northern part of the country had been overrun by criminal elements.
The lawmakers expressed worry at the rising spate of killings, kidnapping and banditry in several parts of the country, even as they declared that Nigeria cannot get the best out of the present security architecture.
Specifically, the lawmakers expressed angst that several resolutions reached at the chambers of the National Assembly had not for once translated into reasonable efforts. It called on the executive, specifically, the security agencies, to rise to the challenge.
Coming under Order 42 and 52 during plenary, the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, said the activities of kidnappers on the Lokoja-Abuja express way was worrisome, a highway he described as the gateway to nine states, and a road that connects Northern and the Southern states.
“At exactly Aseni and Omoko communities along the Lokoja-Abuja highway, on 11th September, 2019, eight people were kidnapped. On 18th September, 11 people were kidnapped with several vehicles destroyed by kidnappers. On the 24th of September, they killed eight people, including a police superintendent, and kidnapped 18 more people,” Melaye said, even as he called on the lawmakers to rise up to their responsibilities.
He recalled that the Constitution clearly mandates the government with the responsibility of protecting lives and property.
He urged the lawmakers to uphold the constitution and enforce citizen diplomacy by calling on the security chiefs and the federal government to save the lives and property of Nigerians.
“Insecurity is now in every part of Nigeria. We must make this country safe; if not, looking for investors will be in vain,” Melaye added.
Senate minority leader, Enyinaya Abaribe (Abia South) on his part noted that the lawmakers had several times explored possible ways of ensuring insecurity is tackled but added that their resolutions were always not implemented.
Abaribe pointed that that the problem of kidnapping and killings was not peculiar to Kogi but was ravaging several other places in Nigeria.
“The Abuja-Kaduna road has been abandoned, which is an indication that we have yielded to the bandits’ antics. Despite governors’ treaty with bandits, the situation is still bad Nigerians are kidnapped and sold. We are in a very difficult situation that must be treated with the severest consequences,” Abaribe said.
He urged the Senate to propel the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the heads of other security agencies to act.
Also in his contribution, Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central) narrated how kidnappers now write letters to communities to contribute money for them or face attack in Gombe State.
“Kidnapping and banditry is now in Abuja, a place we thought was a safe haven. The kidnapping is taking place even in Asokoro,” Goje said.
“They are now giving notice in Gombe State, even in my constituency,” Goje said of the kidnappers, adding that they wanted to close down the University because the kidnappers threatened to attack the lecturers.
“Government must use technology because with the use of technology, three of the kidnappers were arrested. The equipment are not enough. They are being moved from one state to another. Proper budgetary provision should be made,” Goje said.
Goje remarked that the most important roads in the North were under siege, adding that the Lokoja-Abuja, Kaduna-Kano roads were faced with serious insecurity that must be tackled.
Also in his contribution, Senate President Ahmed Lawan noted that Nigeria cannot achieve the desired results with the present security architecture, insisting that they must act differently to achieve results.
He said before they went on recess, the senators were planning to review their previous security summit report by conducting a fresh public hearing.
Lawan insisted that the present security architecture cannot secure the country, saying it needs to be reviewed.
“The way the security architecture is designed, we can’t get the best out of them,” Lawan said.
The Senate president noted that the minister of communication had shown a willingness to block mobile lines that were not properly registered, adding that there must be a lead on who the criminals are.
“We learned two million lines had been blocked. We need to go further than that; we need to give security agencies more funds but we must insist on accountability.”
On the Abuja-Kaduna highway which had become infested with kidnapers forcing many to abandon the road for rail transport, the senator told security agents to go by road so that they can confront the bandits.
“The military, the police and other para-military organisations should allow the ordinary people to use the train. They should follow the road,” Lawan added.
The Senate therefore called on the Inspector General of Police to secure the road and intensify efforts at tackling insecurity in the country.
The lawmakers also called for a blockage of the Nigerian border communities to curb illegal inflow of foreigners and ammunition.
The lawmakers also called for the introduction of anti-kidnaping legislation, and for a review of its earlier committee report on security for possible Implementation.
“Drones should be made available to enhance technological approach to tackle security. The security agencies should be restructured,” the Senate resolved, even as it promised to appropriate more funds for security personnel, but with strict monitoring to ensure transparency and accountability.
“If we do not do something, something will do us,” the lawmakers added.