John Ameh, Leke Baiyewu and Adeniyi Olugbemi
The Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday condemned the killing of 39 persons in Sokoto State by suspected bandits on Tuesday.
The Sokoto State Government was reported on Thursday to have held a mass burial on Wednesday for 32 people, who were killed when bandits on motorcycles invaded villages in Rabah Local Government Area of the state. Compared to the neighbouring Zamfara, Sokoto has been peaceful.
While Senator Adamu Aliero (Kebbi-Central) and his counterpart, Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto-North), who both sponsored a motion that condemned the killings, put the number of people that died at 40, in the House, a member from the state, Mr Aminu Shagari, said about 32 persons were killed.
But the state Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, while receiving seven governors on Thursday said besides the 32 people, who were buried, seven more corpses were brought to the villages on Wednesday.
At the plenary, the Senate condemned the killings and urged the Federal Government to deploy more security personnel and equipment in Sokoto State.
While calling for more security presence in Sokoto and the neighbouring states, the upper chamber of the National Assembly urged the military, Nigeria Police and the Department of State Services to combat the killers collectively.
The call followed the adoption of a motion moved by Aliero and Wamakko entitled “Gruesome Killing of 40 People in Sokoto State by Bandits.”
Granting prayers of the motion, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to “urge the Federal Government to mandate the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigeria Police’s helicopter divisions to carry out an aerial surveillance of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states, with the view to identifying locations and hideouts of these bandits and dealing with them decisively.”
The lawmakers also urged the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, through the commissioners of police in the three states to set up a “special squad” to mop up the whole zone and get rid of the bandits.
They also called for “synergy between the DSS, the police and the armed forces with the view to sharing intelligence and strategies in getting rid of the bandits.”
While the lawmakers resolved to observe a one-minute silence in honour of those killed, which was done, they requested the National Emergency Management Agency to send emergency relief materials to the affected communities.
The Senate further resolved to send a delegation to condole with the government and people of Sokoto State over the attacks.
Attackers invaded villages in broad daylight -Senator
Moving the motion, Aliero said, “The Senate notes with sadness the gruesome and unprecedented killing of innocent and defenceless people – 40 in number – in Sokoto by bandits on Monday morning at Dogonyero in Gandi District of Raba Local Government Area of Sokoto.
“The Senate is further concerned that the bandits are operating in the Zamfara forest where they carry out nefarious and barbaric killings of innocent people over a period of two years. The Senate further notes that they moved with motorcycles that carry up to three people, numbering about 30 motorcycles in all, meaning that the bandits were up to 90.
Security agencies withdrew their men -Senator
“The Senate is worried that the bandits sent two people to the village to buy food for them, and the villagers observed that the emissaries were armed and they were interrogated by the villagers and found to be bandits similar to the ones operating in Zamfara. The villagers apprehended and executed the two emissaries.”
According to Aliero, the group sent advance notice to the villagers that it was coming to retaliate the killing of its members. He lamented that security agencies, who were alerted about the impending reprisal, allegedly withdrew their men after some days.
He said, “The Senate notes with sympathy that the chairman of the local government and the village head alerted the law enforcement agencies to this notice of the bandits. Security was provided for a period of five days, after which they were withdrawn. Immediately the security agencies were withdrawn, the bandits moved in and started killing indiscriminately using AK-47 rifles.
“The situation now is that most of the villagers have left their homes out of fear and so many are still stranded in the bush, not to mention the injured ones still at the hospital and others rendered homeless.”
House again urges Buhari to halt killings
In the House, members again called on President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the killings in the country by bandits and herdsmen.
Members were jolted by the news of the latest killings in Sokoto State by suspected bandits, directing an investigation into recent killings in the North-West geopolitical zone.
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The House resolved that the Federal Government should audit the manpower of all security agencies in the country.
It also ordered a review of the county’s “security architecture to identify the problems and proffer lasting solutions.”
A member from Sokoto State, Mr Aminu Shagari, had drawn the attention of the House to the killings, saying that insecurity was worsening in the country.
Shagari told the House that the attackers had earlier written their victims to inform them they were going to invade their communities.
He stated, “Some villages in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State were attacked by bandits, who invaded the villages on Monday, July 9, 2018 in broad daylight, maimed and killed about 32 people and embarked on wanton destruction of property…”
He expressed shock that despite passing a message that they would come, security agencies reportedly did nothing to thwart the attacks.
The Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Relations, Ms Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, reviewed the killings all over the country and came to the conclusion that Nigeria was at war.
“Nigeria is at war; let us accept the truth. There have been killings from the North-East to the North-Central.
“Now, we talk of Sokoto and Zamfara states. We must rise to the occasion to stop these killings,” she added.
Making her contribution, Mrs Ayo Omidiran, suggested that up to “50 per cent” of government spending in a year could be devoted to security to address the problem sufficiently through mass recruitment of additional hands into the security agencies.
“There are so many agile, unemployed youths in the country who will easily fill in the manpower gaps in our security agencies,” Omidiran stated.
Six Northern govs sympathise with Tambuwal
In a related development, six governors on Thursday visited their Sokoto State counterpart, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, to sympathise with him over the killings
The governors included those of Zamfara, Borno, Niger, Jigawa, Katsina and Adamawa states.
Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, Alhaji AbdulAzeez Abubakar Yari, who spoke on behalf of others, described the killings as regrettable.
He expressed concern that the bandits were shifting their activities to Sokoto State, which he described as a peaceful state.
Yari said, “We came to Sokoto to condole with our colleague governor and the good people of the state for the loss. We are concerned about this ugly incident. About 11 of us planned to come over for this condolence but some couldn’t make it.
“This incident is regrettable and we know how painful it can be losing loved ones and relatives, but we pray that God will console them and protect our country.”
The governor called on the citizens to willingly offer information to security agencies about strange people around saying, “if we come together we can achieve a lot.”
Attack, first of its kind in Sokoto, Tambuwal laments
Responding, Tambuwal thanked the governors for visiting the state and described the attack as first of its kind in the state.
He disclosed that the incident, which happened at Tabanni village in Rabah Local Government Area of the state, claimed no fewer than 39.
“We buried 32 people yesterday but when we were leaving the area, they brought additional seven bodies with one severely damaged which brought the total number to 39.”
Tambuwal said, “This is the first time Sokoto will be having this kind of challenge. We have been facing pressure from neighbouring Zamfara State, and we have been working very closely with the governor of Zamfara State to make sure that the security threat did not degenerate to this level.
“But unfortunately, these marauders invaded Tabanni village, killing and maiming people. These marauders never took away even a chicken; they only came to kill, and left.”
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