The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has taken the campaign for restructuring to the United States of America.
To give fillip to this, Ekweremadu is set to sponsor a bill to decentralise Nigeria’s policing system.
This, he said, was in response to the rising insecurity in the country, particularly the killing of over 100 people in 11 villages in Plateau State by armed Fulani herders.
This has led to a public outcry with prominent Nigerians including the Senate President, Bukola Satraki calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack all the security chiefs for their alleged inability to secure the country and arrest perpetrators of killings across the country particularly Fulani herdsmen.
But Ekeremadu argued that though the sacking of security chiefs might bring temporary relief, the decentralisation of the nation’s police would go a long way in stemming the tide of violence and killings in the country.
According to him, those who were opposed to state police have changed their minds in the wake of unending killings across the country.
He said the bill would be passed in “record time.”
The Deputy Senate President was said to have given the indication during an interactive session with Fulbright Scholars, Exchange Scholars, and Graduate Students of the International Centre for Information and Nelson Mandela Institute of Research.
It was his maiden lecture as a Professor and Senior Mentoring Scholar, E-Governance and Strategic Government Studies, at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Social Sciences, Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.
Ekweremadu was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, as condemning the current system as “dysfunctional and unsuitable for a federal system.”
He said, “As far as I am concerned, whatever we are doing now is certainly not working and we cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.
“The real tragedy of the Plateau massacre is that we risk more attacks and loss of lives unless we decentralise our policing and allow every state at least to take its fate in its own hands.
“So, despite the failure of previous attempts to decentralise the police during constitution amendments, I will introduce a bill that will bring about state police or decentralised policing once I return to Nigeria.”
The lawmaker pointed out that events in recent years had proven beyond reasonable doubts that the current centralised security system would never help the government to live up to its primary responsibility of improving the welfare of the people and the protection of their lives and property.
“I think people are now facing the stark reality. I have been getting calls from serving and former governors and key players and interests, who were opposed to the idea of state police. They confessed that they had seen what some of us have been shouting from the rooftops over the years. They want the bill introduced.
“The members of the (Nigeria) Governors’ Forum are also favourably disposed to the idea now. In fact, their Chairman, the Governor of Zamfara State (Abdulaziz Yari), one of the epicentres of the incessant killings recently ‘resigned’ his position as the chief security officer of his state as the current constitutional arrangement denies him the powers, manpower and resources to stem the killings in his state.
“The bill will also address the fears of Nigerians opposed to state police. Just like the judiciary, the bill will provide for a central police service commission and also structure the state police services in ways that immune them from abuse by any governor or state. It is also a bill we can conclude in record time,” Ekweremadu added.
The Deputy Senate President stated that the killings had continued mainly because the federating states were not constitutionally allowed to recruit, train and equip enough manpower for the security of lives and property of citizens in their states.
He said, “Unlike here in the United States where the component states, counties, big institutions set up police service to address their local needs, the Nigerian constitution vests the security of a very vast, multifarious and highly populated country in the hands of the Federal Government.
“The internal security of Nigeria depends on one man or woman, who sits in Abuja as the Inspector-General of Police. The governor of a state, though designated as the chief security officer of the state by the constitution, cannot direct the police commissioner of his state on security matters, the commissioner will have to clear with the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, who will clear with a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, who will also clear with the Inspector-General of Police, who may in turn need to clear with the President, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. By the time the clearance comes, if it ever does, it would have been late.
“Nigeria is the only federal system I know, which operates a unitary or centralised policing. Ironically, it was not the case in the beginning. The founding fathers agreed on a federal constitution which allowed the component units to set up local police organisations. But it was overturned by the military and successive civilian regimes have continued to play the ostrich.”
M’Belt, Southern youths want security chiefs, Danbazzau sacked
But, a coalition of youths from the Middle Belt, South-West, South- South and South- East, has called on the Federal Government to sack the security chiefs and Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau, saying they have failed in their responsibilities to protect lives and property.
They also told the Middle Beltans and southerners to “be vigilant, resolute and firm in the face of these terror attacks and defend yourselves by any means available.”
The government, they said, should “withdraw the pro-Fulani herdsmen ranching policy,” because it was the key motivating factor behind the endless killings in the country.
They also demanded the arrest of the leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, while they should be “proscribed as terrorist group, with immediate effect.”
Failure to execute their arrest and proscription as terrorist organisations by the Federal Government, they said, would mean that “there is a state collusion with the groups to decimate the Middle Belt and Southern people in this country.”
Their feelings were conveyed in a joint press statement titled, “The conspiracy called retaliation in Nigeria,” obtained by INKLING in Jos on Sunday and signed by youth leaders from the four geo-political zones.
The document was endorsed by Emma Zopmal (Middle Belt), Famous Daunemigha (South-South), Olufemi Lawson (South-West) and Okechukwu Isiguzoro (South-East).
The statement partly read, “All the security chiefs have failed in their responsibilities, including the Minister of Interior, to protect lives and property. Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately remove them and ensure they face a panel of inquiry. If the President fails to do this, Nigerians should know that the government is complicit about the insecurity.
“…Since President Buhari has told the whole world that the Fulani militia were trained by the late Col. Mohammad Ghaddafi of Libya, it means that these people are not Nigerian citizens. Therefore, no piece of land in the Middle Belt and the South should be made available for killers from Libya.
“In a very strong solidarity, we condole and commiserate with the Middle Belt people and other Nigerians who lost their loved ones and property in all the attacks by Fulani herdsmen.”
The youth leaders called on the people of Middle Belt and South both at home and in the Diaspora, to take up the matter to the highest decision-making level.
They said, “The incessant attacks, killings, and destruction of property are out of the control of the Nigerian government. We keenly observe that there is a state collusion using the herdsmen against targeted ethnic groups and communities in parts of the country, particularly in the Middle Belt region.
“The Federal Government which is saddled with security responsibility has been paying lips service to the unfortunate security situation. Despite obvious reasons why government should arrest the two Miyetti Allah groups and proscribe them, the government has continued to look the other way and allow them to continue to wreak untold havoc on lives and property.
“We wish to conclude that the Nigerian government should wake up to its responsibilities. The government should not be sectional in carrying out its responsibilities. The soul of a nation dies if its government is biased. What has eaten up many countries in the world is this tendency towards favouring one side and being high-handed against the other.”
Retire overage service chiefs, PDP tells Buhari
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party asked Buhari to retire overage service chiefs with immediate effect.
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents on Sunday in Abuja, said that President Buhari must listen to Nigerians on the need to rejig the nation’s security apparatus.
He said, “The President should call his service chiefs and give them the marching order to work. Those who are tired among them should be asked to go home.
“As it is, it seems some of them are tired, maybe because they have reached their retirement age. The President should therefore stop imposing them on Nigerians. Allow them to retire. This is why the condition of service stipulates retirement age for all officers, men of the armed forces, and government workers.”
Prove your capacity, Melaye tells Buhari
On his part, the lawmaker representing the Kogi West Senatorial District, Senator Dino Melaye, accused heads of security agencies of incompetence and negligence over the spate of killings across Nigeria.
Melaye alleged that rather than ensuring the arrest and prosecution of the armed herdsmen and militias who were attacking communities, the security chiefs were after members of the opposition and critics of the government.
He also challenged President Buhari to prove his capacity, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, in the protection of lives and property.
“President Buhari must not only show capacity but must prove capacity. Too much blood in the land. The Presidency must show that they are not comfortable with the valley of death that our beloved country is turning into. For now nothing shows that there is interest to abate the senseless killings going on. Act now. Above all, God please walk through Nigeria. Grant us peace and heal our land,” he said.
The lawmaker said this in a statement titled, ‘Regime Protection Not the Primary Function of Security Agencies. President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians are dying,’ on Sunday.
He stated, “The news of another round of killings, this time of close to 100 persons of Birom descent spread over three local government areas in Plateau State, assailed me like a bolt of lightning; that this could still happen in spite of the billions of naira being invested in security annually, and despite all admonitions that security chiefs take their responsibilities seriously leaves one reeling with shock.”
Presidency reacts to call for security chiefs’ sacking
But the Presidency on Sunday reacted to the call for the removal of security chiefs, saying President Buhari would take the right decision on their fate as part of efforts aimed at ending ongoing killings in parts of the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Shehu was asked for the Presidency’s reaction to separate calls by Saraki; the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, for the immediate removal of security chiefs to allow for fresh and innovative ideas on how to protect the nation.
The presidential spokesman expressed the belief that Buhari would have read the statements which followed the increasing spate of killings across the country.
He said it was left for the President, who is currently attending the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Mauritania, to decide what to do on the matter.
“The President will do that which is right. I am sure he must have read the statement and he will decide on what to do,” Shehu said.
Saraki, the NGF and Tambuwal had called for the immediate removal of security chiefs to allow for fresh and innovative ideas on how to protect the nation.
Tambuwal, who spoke while declaring open the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigeria Union of Journalists holding in Sokoto, noted that there was no need retaining security heads that could not find solution to perennial security challenges in the country.
On his part, Saraki said the killings in the country were abnormal because they involved loss of human lives.
Saraki, who fielded questions from journalists in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, on Saturday particularly blamed security chiefs for working at cross purposes and for their refusal to partner with the National Assembly.
He insisted that incompetent hands among them must be ready to give way in order to end the current security challenges in the affected areas.
Security operatives arrest six more suspects
Six more suspects, who allegedly partook in the multiple killings in 11 communities in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, have been arrested by the Special Military Task Force codenamed Operation Safe Haven, and will be paraded today (Monday).
With the latest arrest, the number of suspects so far apprehended is now 23.
Meanwhile, Gbong Gwom Jos, His Majesty Jacob Gyang Buba, has called on the people of Plateau State to “remain calm, law-abiding, security-conscious and report any unusual movement to the relevant security agencies.”
The spokesperson for OPSH, Maj. Umar Adams, had, while parading 17 suspects in connection with the killings, told journalists that three were apprehended at Gashish District, Barkin Ladi LGA, while 14 others were nabbed for alleged “civil unrest”, after they stopped passers-by along the highways to avenge the killings of their kinsmen.
The Commander of OPSH, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, told INKLING on Sunday night that the six suspects arrested would be transferred to Abuja.
He said, “We made more arrests and we are parading them tomorrow (today). We have close to four today (Sunday) and two the other day – that’s like six. As we are parading them, we are moving them straight to Abuja because we don’t even have the capacity to keep them.
“If we keep them here in Jos, we usually encounter the problem of people saying they want to see their relatives and take their bail. Moreover, the apparatus and administration of justice in Plateau State is not very strong to convict these people. That is why you see them committing all these crimes. All the ones we have sent to Abuja, all of them are presently being prosecuted.
“The prosecution in Plateau State is too weak; the prosecution by the Federal Government is stronger and has a higher standard. You can’t just bail somebody who committed this type of crimes. But here in Plateau State, people will start asking for bail.”
The Gbong Gwom Jos, in a statement by his spokesperson, Alex Rwang-Pam, commiserated with the families of the victims saying, “It seems the situation has overwhelmed those charged with security.”
The attacks, according to him, “were carried out in our villages by people who do not, in any way and by evidence of history, have villages or ancestral lands to which they claim were attacked by our people.”