The Senate, Wednesday, urged the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Babagana Munguno to, as a matter of urgency, deploy more security personnel to communities affected by the activities of bandits and suspected herdsmen to avert a looming humanitarian crisis likely to occur as a result of the displacement of residents.
This was even as the Upper Chamber called on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) to undertake an ‘on-the-spot’ assessment of the affected communities with a view to determining the extent of the problem and providing relief to the affected persons.
These formed part of resolutions reached by the Senate after it considered two separate motions on the displacement of residents following the invasion of their communities by bandits and suspected herdsmen.
Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi Central) in the first motion noted with concern the rising humanitarian situation in Bena, Kebbi State, arising from the activities of bandits in neighbouring Zamfara State which shares a border with Kebbi State.
According to the lawmaker, “the internally displaced persons from about 17 villages in Zamfara sharing the border with Kebbi State have moved to Bena, wasagu, mage areas with no arrangements for an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp and are scattered all over, making it difficult to cater for their welfare.”
Accordingly, the Senate while urging the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to, as a matter of urgency, establish IDP camps in Bena and render support to those affected; charged the National Security Adviser and all agencies involved in internal security to increase deployment of security agencies to reverse the ugly situation.
Coming under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, Senator Tolu Odebiyi (APC, Ogun West), in a separate motion recalled the recent spate of attacks by suspected herdsmen on communities in Yewa area of Ogun State.
The lawmaker noted that, “many of these attacks by suspected herdsmen on the area remain perennial, owing to the near absence of police and other security personnel in the affected communities;
“Disturbed that these attacks have brought unquantifiable damage to facilities which would have ensured the welfare of the residents and inhabitants of these communities;
“Further Disturbed, that many communities, namely (but not limited to) Asa, Oho Agbooro, Moro, Ibeku and Agbon-Ojodu, were affected by the criminal activities of these suspected herdsmen;
“Aware that the countless attacks by these criminal elements have forced many residents of these areas have deserted and relocated to a refugee camp in Pobearea of Benin Republic in search of safety, with many of them forced to live in very unfavourable conditions in the refugee camps;
“Further Aware that the position of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, which followed an informed on-the-spot assessment of the affected communities, was described by the Executive Secretary of the society in Ogun State, Mr Oluwole Aboyade as “…a very serious disaster, a serious one of the highest order…”
“Aware also that the Red Cross Organization, the only recognized organization that has been providing intermittent aids for these displaced persons, has had to issue out statement, seeking assistance from well-meaning Nigerians for members of these affected communities;
“Disturbed that the state government alone, can not be left with the onerous task of resettling these displaced citizens, hence, the need for support from the Federal Government to effectively return the affected citizens back to their various communities;
“Further Disturbed that, if the Benin Republic that is a Neighbour to Nigeria could accommodate Nigerians, give them food and set up a refugee camp for them, Nigeria needs to positively step up on how we treat our citizens who are victims of an internally induced crisis;
“Concerned that if the situation is not urgently and properly attended to, it will undermine the country’s international standing and cause an itch in our relations with our neighbour.”
Contributing, Senator Rochas Okorocha (APC, Imo West), urged Nigerians to unite against the perpetrators of criminality by refusing to associate the various criminal activities with any region in particular.
He said: “The happenings in the South-West, vis-à-vis issue of herdsmen has become a recurrent decimal, and literally what we discuss almost every week at this red chamber.
“Mr. Senate President, I’m a bit concerned that this issue is gradually creating a wall of division in our country. Hence, in the handling of this matter, we must be absolutely very careful.
“I rise to speak, that a criminal remains a criminal in whatever form or shape he or she comes. We must learn to separate criminals from where they come from, and deal with them as criminals such that when we mention herdsmen, it does not look like a Fulani man attacking a Yoruba man; or when we mention kidnappers, it does not mean that somebody from the South or South-East is attacking the north; or when we mention Boko Haram, it does not look like the north is attacking others.
“So, we must be very careful, because these bunch of criminal are gradually finding their way in creating a wall of division. The unity of this country is very key at this moment, and we must do everything to protect it.
“One thing that gives me concern is that I keep wondering that we do not have more than 50,000 criminals in this country from records I have seen; how can 50,000 criminals defeat 200 million people?
“It then means that the 50,000 criminals are United, while the 200 million people are divided. We need to unite and be able to tag these criminals by their names and not by where they come from. In that case, we shall be winners in this battle,” Okorocha said.
The Senate, accordingly, called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) to undertake an ‘on-the-spot’ assessment of the affected communities with a view to determining the extent of the problem and providing relief to the affected persons.
The Upper Chamber while calling on the concerned authorities to pursue/put in place necessary mechanism for the reparation and relocation of the affected peoples and communities; urged the authorities of the Nigerian Police Force to see to the provision of Police Post(s) and ensuring police presence in these communities, so as to ensure security and rekindle the people’s confidence.