IGP appears before Senate, blames Benue killings on anti-grazing law

By Editor on 03/02/2018

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The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, appeared before the Senate on Friday to explain the efforts by the Nigeria Police Force to address the killings by herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of the country.

The Senate had summoned the police boss over his alleged non-compliance with a resolution by the chamber asking him to, within 14 days, arrest and prosecute the herdsmen suspected to have killed over 70 persons in Benue in January.

While the ultimatum expired on Tuesday, the Senate on Wednesday resolved to summon Idris to appear before the Committees on Police Affairs; and Intelligence, while the joint committee was mandated to report back to the chamber on Tuesday.

The IG, who failed to appear before the panel on Thursday, met with the lawmakers behind closed doors in a meeting that lasted about two hours.

Journalists and policemen who accompanied Idris were sent out of the venue after the introductory session.

A source who was privy to the issues discussed at the meeting told our correspondent that the police boss alleged that the enactment and implementation of the law prohibiting open grazing by herders in Benue State worsened the crisis between farmers and herdsmen.

Idris was said to have told the lawmakers that the implementation of the law should be stopped pending the provision of ranches as an alternative, while the law could later be gradually implemented. He was quoted as also indicting a local militia group in a part of the state.

The source said, “The IG said the anti-open grazing law being enforced by Governor Samuel Ortom on Benue is the major cause of the problem. He called for a review of the law to make provision for ranches which will serve as an alternative to open grazing. He also called for more provision of funds and manpower for the police, more dialogue and engagements between stakeholders, disarmament of militia groups and re-establishment of grazing routes.”

According to the source, Idris told the panel that almost 150 suspects linked to the crisis had been arrested with over 120 of them already charged to court.

The source, however, could not provide details of the suspects and the court(s) in which they were being prosecuted.

Meanwhile, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, representing Abia North, has expressed his disagreement with President Muhammadu Buhari on the points he raised in his letter to the Senate on the killings in Benue and other parts of the country.

Buhari had dismissed the position of the Senate that the Federal Government had failed to address the spate of killings by herdsmen in Benue.

In the letter, which the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, read to members at the plenary on Wednesday, Buhari narrated all the efforts so far made by him to end the killings.

But Ohuabunwa, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, said the killings had not stopped despite the efforts Buhari claimed to have made.

He said, “If you claim to have done so much, have the killings abated? With what he is saying, the killings are still going on. You also remember that the Senate gave the IG two weeks to fish out the culprits but up till now, he has not.

“The Senate had to ask a committee to invite the IG to come and tell us what happened. So, for me, I believe the government still has so much to do.”

The lawmaker recalled that Buhari also wrote to the Senate after the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, was rejected by the chamber.

“The President himself wrote just like this, telling us that the issues had been sorted out and resolved in favour of Magu, only for the Department of State Services, (which earlier disqualified the nominee) to write another letter to say that those issues were still there. So, for us, these letters are just the usual letters.”

Meanwhile, the security summit being proposed by the Senate will hold next week.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi-Abdullahi, made it known while briefing journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

He, however, said the specific date and venue would be made public later.

For the second time, the Senate had suspended the summit.

A statement on January 17 by the Leader and Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Security Infrastructure of Nigeria, Senator Ahmad Lawan, had said the participants expected at the event include senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors, heads of security agencies, traditional rulers, socio-cultural groups, and civil society organisations.

Others are representatives of regional socio-political organisations, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the Christian Association of Nigeria, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, All Farmers Association of Nigeria and civil society organisations.

The Majority Leader and Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the Security Infrastructure of Nigeria, Senator Ahmad Lawan, had on January 17 asked that the summit be postponed by two weeks as the time frame was too short for his committee to make preparations for the event.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lawan issued a statement to announce the date and venue of the summit.

The statement was, however, withdrawn after the day’s plenary. The withdrawal was blamed on the burial ceremony for the late former Vice President Alex Ekwueme.

According to the statement withdrawn, the event was to hold at the Presidential Villa on Thursday and Monday.

It was gathered that members of the Senate, at the closed-door session on Tuesday, however, protested against moving the summit to the Villa. Some of them were said to have argued that critical stakeholders would not be able to speak their minds under the close watch of the Presidency.

The lawmakers were said to have opted for the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

“The feeling is that the summit will be hijacked by the Executive and the Senate will not have full control over it to get the best out of the government officials, especially security chiefs,” the source said.

The aborted statement had said the summit was in collaboration with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Executive.

 

Posted 03/02/2018 06:01:05 AM

 

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