By: Joy Odor/Abuja
The Senate has insisted that the nation’s security architecture must be reviewed, to be able to tackle the menace of kidnapping, banditry and other security challenges in the country.
The Senate declared this position while consideration a motion of urgent public importance brought to the floor of the apex legislative chamber by Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi West).
Senator Melaye, who hinged his motion on Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders, had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the recent upsurge of kidnapping and banditry on Lokoja-Abuja expressway, with the criminals being brutish on commuters.
He expressed concerns that in spite of earlier reports of activities of kidnappers and bandits on Lokoja-Abuja roads, the federal government did not take any drastic measures towards curbing the problem.
Melaye said: “my colleagues, this morning, I bring to your notice the activities of kidnappers on Lokoja-Abuja express road. That road is a gateway to nine states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the only road joining the Southern and Northern states of Nigeria.
“On the 11th of September, a very serious issue of kidnap where about eight people were kidnapped on that road. As if that was not enough, on the 18th of September again, they came more vociferous and kidnapped about 11 people on that road, destroying property of motorists.
“Again, on the 24th September, this gang of armed robbers came there and killed eight Nigerians including one Assistant Superintendent of Police who was also commuting on that road. They killed eight people and kidnapped 18 people.
“My worry is that it happened on the 11th and there was no serious security attention to it; it happened again on the 18th and it was fully demonstrated again on the 24th, where the lives of eight Nigerians were unceremoniously taken.
“I think that this should go beyond the normal taking of motions, secondment and resolutions. I think the attention of the federal government and specifically the security agencies must be brought to this dastardly act.
“Something more aggressive must be done beyond normal because abnormal situations demand abnormal instruments. If we don’t do something Mr. President, something will do us.
Contributing, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, expressed serious concerns over the worsening security situation in the country, saying that the was need to take urgent and unusual drastic action to arrest the situation.
“I really have a big difficulty with this issue, and the difficulty I have is, what else do we do apart from always getting up and making these presentations, and assuming that the Executive whose duty it is to give effect to our resolutions will do something. This question is what has actually been agitating my mind.
“As Senator Dino has said, let us not do the normal thing. Maybe we need to think outside the box. What is that abnormal thing that we must do? As I stand before you, I do not know because I am aware that the problem is not just on Kogi-Abuja stretch, it is also happening in other stretches of Nigeria.
“Even those of us who have access to security, we still don’t use the kaduna-Abuja road which is just very near, we also continue to struggle to get train ticket, which means that in some parts of this country, we have yielded to the bandits.
“Some time ago, we heard that some state governors had to go and engage the bandits and negotiate. We even got some very disturbing stories that some kidnapped Nigerians were being sold into slavery. That is just mind bugging. So, I am stocked but I will only continue to say to those whose duty is to secure us”, Abaribe stated.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said that the Senate would adopt a radical approach in tackling the rising spate of kidnapping and general insecurity across the country.
He said: “the issue of kidnapping, banditry and other crimes affect all of us. I agree completely that we need to do something differently.
“You recall that before we went on recess, we agreed we need to go back to the report to review the architecture of security in Nigeria, which the 8th Senate set up, in addition to a public hearing on a way to ensure that we review the security architecture and structure of our agencies today.
“The way they are designed, we are not getting the best out of them; and we can’t go on like this. We will take it up with the executive arm of government, and also our Committee on Communications and the Federal Ministry of Communications.”
“The bandits and kidnappers use telephone lines to negotiate, so it means there will always be a lead to where or who they are. At the last count, I was told two million lines have been blocked. I think we should go far beyond that.
“And maybe we will need to be a bit radical. We need to give the security agencies some more funds but insist on accountability.”
“It is not enough to give them money; we must see how they utilise it. We must insist on that; and if we do that, we also insist that uniform people must not join the train, because they are the ones that are supposed to protect us on highways.
“The military, the police and other paramilitary agencies should allow ordinary people to use the train. Let them ply the roads, because that would make other road users to use the roads”.
Consequently, the upper legislative chamber urged President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the report of its ad hoc Committee in the Eight Assembly, on reviewing the nation’s security architecture.
It also urged the security agencies to adequately secure the Lokoja-Abuja road and other major roads in the country.
It further called on the Inspector-General of Police to intensify efforts in protecting life and property of Nigerians.
The Senate also urged security agencies to use surveillance equipment such as drones and tracker to get at the kidnappers and bandits, who use telephones to demand for ransom from their victims’ relatives.
Further more, the Red Chamber tasked Nigerian Immigration Services and other relevant security agencies to step up the monitoring of the country’s borders to curb the inflow of immigrants who are potential agents of insecurity from neighboring countries.
The Senate resolved that it should come up with a very stringent anti-kidnapping legislation to curb the menace in the country.
This was as the President of the Senate, Ahmad lawn, suggested that all security personnel should be stopped from boarding train while avoiding menace of kidnappers and bandits on the Abuja-Kaduna road.