Again, grief surged in Borno State on Saturday, November 28 over the
killing of many rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents. The state in
particular and North East, in general, has grappled with a relentless
insurgency for more than a decade.
According to reports, Boko Haram has killed more than 30,000 people
since 2009 and continues to stage regular attacks across Borno and
other parts of the region.
The anger expressed by members of the National Assembly on Tuesday,
December 1 over the latest massacre, could therefore be understood by
many Nigerians. As representatives of the people, they, like millions
of others across the world, are tired of the loss of human lives on daily
basis in the country to either kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers and
terrorists, among other criminals.
The farmers’ killings on their farm in Zabarmari, a community in Jere
Local Government Area of the state was the worst in recent times and
majority of Nigerians rose against it even as they condemned President
Muhammadu Buhari for his refusal to sack the security chiefs and
replace them with new ones with fresh ideas to deal with the increasing level of insecurity in the country.
The victims were buried on November 30 while more than a dozen others
are said to be missing. Millions have been forced from their homes and
farms by the terrorists.
According to a local official, the farmers were tired of Boko Haram
extremists stealing their money and crops, so when they saw a chance
to capture one of their tormentors, they tied him up to face justice.
In response, gunmen on motorbikes stormed the village on Saturday,
November 28 killing many of the farmers in one of the deadliest
attacks in years in the North East.
President Buhari, in a tweet, said “the entire country is hurt by these
senseless killings”, describing the loss as “insane.”
However, debate on the massacre generated tension in both chambers of
the National Assembly –the Senate and House of Representatives on
Tuesday, December 1. The lawmakers declared that President Buhari, as
the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has failed in his
the constitutional responsibility of protecting Nigerians.
It was tougher in the House of Representatives as lawmakers summoned
President Buhari to appear before them over the ugly incident. Though
there was a division among them, the House adopted a motion under urgent
matters of national importance sponsored by Hon. Satomi Ahmed at the
plenary presided by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, that the
President is made to brief them on the true state of the security of
In the Senate, the President was asked to “immediately initiate a
transitional process of phasing out the current overstayed security
chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions.”
This was part of the resolutions that followed a motion, titled:
“Beheading of 67 farmers in Borno by Boko Haram insurgents: Need for
urgent decisive action”, sponsored by former governor of Borno State
and now a senator representing the central senatorial district, Kashim
Shettima during plenary.
Similarly, the upper legislative chamber called on the federal
government to, as a matter of urgency, recruit at least 10, 000
civilian Joint Task Force, JTF, versatile with the local terrain in
Borno as agro rangers under the aegis of the Nigerian Civil Defence
and Security Çorps, NCDSC to complement the efforts of the Armed
It also urged the President to take immediate steps to restructure,
remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and
provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively
combat the belligerent power of the insurgents. The lawmakers equally
sought an immediate probe into widespread allegations of corruption and
leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to
foster transparency and ensure all resources meant and deployed for
security is actually spent on the needs on the ground.
In addition, the Senate called on the federal government to
aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership
with the neighboring nations of Chad, Niger, and Cameroons towards
reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force and
finding a lasting solution to the scourge of insurgency in the Lake
Senator Shettima had noted in his motion that Borno State has been
“the epicenter of despicable activities of Boko Haram for over a
the decade during which a conservative estimate of 40, 000 people, mostly
unarmed civilians were brutally murdered, 2.5million people displaced
from their homes and farms, property worth trillions of naira wantonly
destroyed and over seven million people, mostly women, and children
plunged into dire humanitarian needs.”
According to him, “the right to control the border axis of the north-Eastern part of this country has claimed thousands of lives
(military and civilian alike).” He recalled that the terrorists had in
February attacked in Auno and killed 40 people, the assault in Foduma
Koloram village of Gubio led to the loss of 100 civilians last June while
another attack in Usman Lawanti left another 40 dead.
Contributing, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) bemoaned the delay
in the implementation of the report of the National Assembly by the Executive arm of government, on measures needed to be undertaken
towards an overhaul of the nation’s security infrastructure. “The first report that we submitted to this Senate was not implemented. The
second report was also not implemented. We have made several
suggestions in this Senate, and nothing was done,” he lamented.
The Senate Leader, therefore, challenged the upper legislative chamber
to move a step further to save the country. Citing Section 14 (1) and
(2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, he emphasized that while
sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people, the primary purpose and
responsibility of the federal government shall be to guarantee the
security and welfare of citizens.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan declared that
the National Assembly has taken the issue of insecurity very seriously
and assured that additional steps would be taken to ensure that its
resolutions are respected and implemented, “because the
parliamentarians are close to the people.”
“I believe that this is one set of resolutions that the Executive must
find a way of quickly implementing. These are not frivolous or
imaginary resolutions. These are resolutions that have come from
experience on the ground,” he said.
Lawan stressed that the barbaric killings of farmers in Borno State
should be a turning point in the fight against insurgency and
insecurity in Nigeria. “Enough of any excuses, people who have little
or nothing to add should be shown the way out. People with the
capacity and wherewithal, but probably lack the resources, we will
make the resources available to them,” he added.
In his motion on the floor of the House, Ahmed, on behalf of other 10
sponsors from the troubled state said he was pained that the terrorist group tied up and slit the throats of the farmers in an
insane and barbaric manner. According to him, the inability of the
military and security forces to avert the continued wanton killings by
Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, and terrorists in the North East and
across the country remains a source of concern.
But the lawmaker incurred the wrath of his colleagues when he
deliberately skipped the prayer on the need to summon Buhari by opting
to call on the President to amongst other things, declare a state of
emergency on security matters.
At this point, another lawmaker, Usman Jaha raised a point of order
under matters of privileges, drawing the Speaker’s attention to the
misnomer. “We, all the members from Borno State sat together and
agreed that all the prayers of the motion must remain as they are. We
all agreed that Mr. President should be invited to come to explain the
security situation in the country, especially the North East,” he
But Gbajabiamila said the call for a declaration of a state of
emergency on security issues as moved by his colleague earlier was
sufficient enough to “allow far-reaching measures to be taken.”
This didn’t go down well with Jaha. He insisted that unless it was the collective opinion of the 10 members from Borno State, who jointly
sponsored the motion to step down the prayer, Buhari should be
Attempts by the House Leader, Ado Doguwa, and the chairman of the House
Committee on Air Force, Shehu Koko to toe the line of the Speaker was
resisted with shouts of “no”, “no”, “no” by lawmakers in support of
the summoning Buhari.
With the session turning rowdy, Gbajabiamila said “let me say this;
I’m a little disappointed with the shouts of no!!!. Let’s go into an
executive session and resolve this matter.”
Surprisingly, President Buhari agreed to honor the summon by the House to
address the country on the recent security crisis bugging the nation. The
Speaker disclosed this to State House Correspondents after a meeting
with the President in his office the following day.
Although the agreed date was not disclosed, Gbajabiamila said the
President would face the House and provide required enlightenment on
security developments across the country.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu had shocked and further angered
many Nigerians with his statement that the deceased farmers did not
have military clearance to be on the rice farms the day they were
killed. Shehu told BBC in an interview after the massacre that people
need to know what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.
According to him, although much of those areas have been liberated
from Boko Haram terrorists, there are a number of spaces that have not
been cleared for the return of villagers who have been displaced.
“The government is sad that this tragic incident has happened. 43 or
thereabout of innocent farmworkers, most of them had their throats
slit by a heartless band of terrorists. People need to know what it is
like in the Lake Chad Basin area,” he said.
However, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS
Commission has called on the federal government to bring the killers
of the rice farmers in Borno State to justice. It insisted in a
statement that the perpetrators of the heinous crime should not be
The commission restated its appeal for regional, continental and
international solidarity with the ECOWAS member states at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and also with the ECOWAS Commission in the implementation of the 2020-2024 Priority Action Plan
on the Eradication of Terrorism in ECOWAS.
The lawmaker incurred the wrath of his colleagues when he deliberately
skipped the prayer on the need to summon Buhari by opting to call on
the President to amongst other things declare a state of emergency on
security matters. deceased farmers did not have military clearance to
be on the rice farms the day they were killed.
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