President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the National Assembly would continue to engage the Executive arm of government until appropriate action is taken to address the growing insecurity in parts of the country.
The Senate has in several motions called for the sack of military service chiefs over the rising spate of violence across the country, especially in the Northeast and Northwest.
President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to accede to the demands of the legislators.
Last week, the House of Representatives invited him to appear before House to explain the situation but the President failed to appear after the Attorney-General of the Federation said the invitation was unconstitutional.
Speaking on Tuesday at the end of plenary, Senator Lawan lamented the recent kidnapping of students at the Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State.
“There’s nothing more important for government to do than securing the lives of citizens of this country, and at all times.
“As a parliament, we should never get tired of talking about issues that affect our people. We have our own limitations because of the structure of how governance must be carried out, but we must never get tired of reporting what is happening to our people.
“I believe that we should think outside the box. What are those new things that we need to say to bring everybody to the table for the kind of action we believe in the Senate and, indeed the National Assembly, that should be taken.
“We are part of government, but we have a specialized function, and all these things that we appear to be worried about that nothing has been done is because of the function that we have been appropriated to by the Constitution. But it doesn’t mean we are wasting our time.
“We should continue to engage with the Executive arm of government until the appropriate actions are taken, because that is what we are expected to do as a Parliament,” the Senate President said.
Earlier, coming under Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, Senator Bello Mandiya (APC – Katsina South) noted with sadness the recent terrorist attack and abduction of students at Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State by gunmen on Friday, 11th December, 2020 as widely reported in both local and international media.
“Further notes that according to reports by media organization including Aljazeera, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Premium Times and the Daily Trust Newspapers of 13th December, 2020, more than 300 school boys are still missing following the attack;
“Recalls that media reports about the dastardly incident indicate that the attackers stormed the school premises and engaged government security agents in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of students to flee and hide in the surrounding forest while others were reportedly abducted by gunmen;
“Further recalls that the Katsina State Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Mallam Aminu Masari was reported to have confirmed that before the incident, the school which operates as a boarding school had a total student population of 884 students but after the attack, the whereabouts of 333 students is yet to be ascertained;
“Aware that section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended stipulates that the welfare and security of citizens shall be the primary responsibility of government; those government at all levels owe the people the duty to provide adequate security;
“Aware that the recent attack and abduction of school children at Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State is coming on the heels of yet to be resolved abduction of 270 girls which took place at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in 2014, and abduction of about 100 school girls at Government Science and Technical School, Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018;
“Concerned that like the other incidents of school children abduction that took place in Chibok and Dapchi, several years back, if no immediate action is taken to rescue the Kankara School boys, their fate may be sealed in the hands of terrorists.”
Contributing to the debate, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC – Niger East) said, “everyday, people are dying and nothing is happening, and we continue to talk, we continue to go and console them. We can’t bring those lives back.”
“We can’t continue to be leaders, when the people we are leading are being killed everyday. What are the police doing?
“Yesterday, armed bandits were roaming the streets of tekina going to buy bread and geisha (canned fish), and nobody is saying anything to them. And then we will continue to live here and think we are at peace with ourselves?
“Mr. President, there’s need for this chamber to draw the attention of Mr. President that enough is enough, these Service Chiefs Should go. We should give impetus to new blood.
“There are people that have new ideas. Technology is taking over everything today. We don’t have the army, we don’t have the police, why don’t we deploy the technology?
“Just recently, someone said we should bring mercenaries to Nigeria, why should we bring mercenaries to Nigeria when we have vibrant youths that are ready to stand for this country.
“I’m not emotional, I’m being honest and talking from the heart. Enough of this thing.
“Mr. President, I wish the National Assembly will take a drastic action on this. We have the powers to appropriate; we have been appropriating. Where are these funds going to? Are these Service Chiefs the only people that can defend the territorial integrity of this country?”, Senator Sani queried.
Another lawmaker, Kabiru Barkiya (APC – Katsina Central), while describing the kankara kidnapping as a “sad incident”, advised the National Assembly to take urgent steps towards curbing the increasing spate of insecurity in the country.
The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP – Abia South), in a rather short statement, demanded President Muhammadu Buhari to “Bring back our boys.”
Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC – Nasarawa West) on his part, while identifying the limitations of the National Assembly to intervene, advised that a Committee made up of Senators belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) be constituted to brainstorm on possible solutions to the security problems bedeviling the nation.
“There’s nothing we haven’t said in this chamber or other fora that was floated by the National Assembly to address national security, but our fortune has not changed, if anything, it has become worse.
“The solution to the problem is not despair; the solution to the problem is not fault finding. The National Assembly is part of this government.
“I want to emphasize that this problem requires some solution, but our misfortune or limitation is the fact that we can only legislate and oversight. We have limitations because we cannot go beyond the law we make and oversight.
“It is common knowledge, that where you don’t have the power of hiring, you don’t have the power of firing. Let’s not deceive ourselves with this.
“I think Nigerians who are fair minded, will testify to our concern of what is going on in the situation of our insecurity. But, we must take the step of partnership with the leadership of this country, because each one of use here belong to the leadership of this country. Where there is failure, the failure is our failure”, the lawmaker said.
Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions condemned in very strong terms the attack on Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State which led to the abduction and disappearance of over 300 students.
It also rejected a prayer seeking to invite the Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar; the Director-General, Department of State Security Service, Yusuf Magaji Bichi; and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to brief the Senate on measures being taken to rescue the missing students.
The Senate, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider and implement the recommendations of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Nigeria Security Challenges dated March, 17th 2020 and Senate Resolutions therefrom, as a holistic response to the mounting security challenges across the country.
The Upper Chamber also rejected an additional motion by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC – Kebbi North); and seconded by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC – Nasarawa West) for the constitution of an Adhoc Committee comprising of APC and PDP lawmakers, to brainstorm on ways to curb the rising security challenges facing the country.