The Senate yesterday rejected an interim report presented by its ad-hoc committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the farmers’ and herdsmen’s clashes in southern Kaduna and other parts of the federation.
The chairman of the committee set up in January this year, Kabiru Gaya (APC Kano State), had while reading the document on the floor of the hallowed chamber, called on Governor Nasir El-Rufai to publish previous white paper reports on the crisis.
He alleged that 70 per cent of police officers posted to the region were indigenes, calling on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to stop this.
But the house threw out the report, citing lack of thoroughness. The Senate’s action is reflective of a desire to propose solutions to the clashes in southern Kaduna that would be acceptable to all the parties involved and thereby check their recurrence not only in that place but in other parts of the country.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu urged his colleagues to reject the report, insisting that the panel be mandated to go back and do a thorough job.He argued that the report failed to address the salient issues captured in its terms of reference.
Specifically, Ekweremadu noted that the Gaya-led panel did not properly tackle the issue of arms proliferation, sometimes tied to herdsmen, nationwide. He also advocated that the whistleblowing policy should be extended to the security community by urging Nigerians to blow the lid on people harbouring dangerous arms, adding that the move would douse the tension engendered by the huge caches of arms in parts of the country.
Ekweremadu contended that since previous reports were not being implemented, the perpetrators had become more emboldened to continue their dastardly acts. His words: “I consider this issue to be very serious. We must accord it the seriousness it deserves. The committee has confirmed that the killings happened. The recommendations need to reflect more on the seriousness of this matter.
“I understand clearly that the chairman of the committee needs more time to do more work to show the whole world that this Senate is serious about this matter. Looking at the recommendations, they do not reflect the seriousness of the matter like I said. Suggesting that we use money from the Service Wide Vote to handle this matter shows that we do not understand the relevance of that fund.”
He went on: “Today, we are talking about arms’ proliferation. We have a whistleblowing policy. We need to direct it more on those keeping those arms. We were told that the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted arms. Till this day, we have not been told who imported the arms.
“We cannot sit back and allow our women and children to be killed everyday. Our people are being killed in Enugu, Kaduna, Zamfara and other parts of the country. This matter is serious enough for the committee to go back and do more work.”
He found support in Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue State) who faulted the recommendation that special grazing routes be created for herdsmen while neglecting the plight of farmers.
“Even though this is an interim report, it is obvious that we ought to have brought this report to a level where we will establish the seriousness of the issue. I believe we have to look at all the issues. The suggestion about setting up grazing routes must be looked at.
“We must come to a point where we have to agree on what is good for everyone. Today, we need to look at those affected by this thing. In Europe, you do not need a visa to move from one country to another. But there is still strict movement of people,” he remarked.
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