The House of Representatives on Thursday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to direct security agencies to immediately begin the enforcement of the Open Grazing (Prohibition) Law in Benue State and halt the killings by herdsmen.
The House passed the resolution in Abuja as lawmakers again condemned the latest attacks on villagers in the Okpokwu Local Government Area of the state where 26 more lives were lost on Monday.
The session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, stated that the government must recognise the fact that as a state, Benue was covered by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to make laws for the good governance of its existence.
It stressed that there were no alternatives to enforcing a law duly passed by a state assembly and called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and heads of other security agencies to implement the anti-open grazing law.
An All Progressives Congress member from Benue State, Mr. Hassan Saleh, had drawn the attention of the House to the latest killings, blaming the actions of the herdsmen on the “refusal of the police and other security services” to enforce the law.
The development came as another APC member from Edo State, Mr. Johnson Egwakhide-Oghuma, faulted the use of quota system in recruitment into the country’s security agencies.
“Security is a specialised issue. You don’t recruit people into security services on the basis of quota system.
“Security is not necessarily a matter you use for the mere sake of providing employment.
“It is a specialised duty where you do not compromise merit, education and the willingness to do the right thing,” Egwakhide-Oghuma stated.
Leading the debate on the killings, Saleh, who represents Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, told his colleagues that the police and other security services simply turned their backs while the herdsmen continued to hack down defenceless citizens.
He said, “The government has not restricted the herdsmen. These same herdsmen and their cultural organisation, Miyetti Cattle Breeders, have vowed to continue the killings until the anti-open grazing law is reversed.
“The IG and other security services must arrest these killers and prosecute them. We are playing with the future of this country.
“I have received about 700 calls since Monday alone; people are telling me that they are willing to defend themselves. I have to keep pleading with them.
“We must be careful. Mr. Speaker, if we don’t arrest this situation of insecurity all over the country, one day it will consume all of us.
“Mr. Speaker, when it starts, you and I will not be able to sit here in Abuja.”
Dogara did not allow further debate on the motion. He quickly referred it to the ad hoc committee already set up by the House to look into insecurity cases in the country.
However, on his part, Egwakhide-Oghuma called for a review of the recruitment process into security services to play up merit, intelligence and the ability to respond to training.
The lawmaker argued that a government that used job creation as a criterion for recruitment into its security agencies was not prepared to combat crime.
Though, he commended Buhari for the efforts of his administration to recover all territories hitherto occupied by Boko Haram insurgents, Egwakhide-Oghuma insisted that the government must do more.
The House also passed a separate resolution calling for adequate security cover for international aid agencies working in the North-East, particularly Borno State.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said residents of parts of the country where members of the Boko Haram sect were operating before he assumed office in 2015 were in the best position to disclose the change that had taken place under his watch.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke while receiving a delegation from King Salman of Saudi Arabia at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja said Nigerians in the areas affected by Boko Haram insurgency are in the best position to provide correct assessments of the changes that have taken place since he assumed office in 2015,” the statement.
Shehu quoted the President Buhari as saying that his administration was mindful of the three-pronged promises made to Nigerians before the 2015 elections.
He said he remained undeterred and focused on securing the lives and properties of Nigerians.
Buhari told the Saudi Arabian delegation that the priority of his administration had so far been on securing the country, buoying the economy and curbing corruption so that Nigerians would start benefitting from the rich natural and human resources of the country.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said the delegation from Saudi Arabia had already visited the Ministry of Defence, Defence Headquarters and taken a tour of IDP camps in Maiduguri as part of their schedule.
The Leader of the Saudi Arabian delegation from King Salman, Nasser Bin Mutlaq, said the visit and the donation of materials was an extension of the good relations both countries had shared over the years.
“We are directed to offer materials and food for the displaced persons in the North- East worth $10m. We have had a field visit to the places and seen the humanitarian situation ourselves,” he added.