Governors, senators, the Police Service Commission (PSC), civil society groups and other Nigerians on Monday called for a rejig of the security architecture following the killing of 43 farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents on Saturday.
They also called for a replacement of the service chiefs as recommended by the Senate in a resolution.
The PSC urged security agencies to urgently re-strategise to end to the circle of killings in the Northeast.
Its spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, said in a statement that the Commission would continue to work for a workable security arrangement for the country.
“The unprovoked and mindless killing of innocent and hardworking farmers in Borno State is horrifying and barbaric, especially at a time all efforts are geared towards restoring peace and order in the troubled Northeast of the country.
“The Commission calls on the security agencies to quickly re-strategise and put an end to this unending circle of killings in the Northeast, adding that the citizens should also be in the forefront as security has become the business of everybody.
“We wish to commiserate with Mr. President, the leaders of the Northeast, the government and people of Borno State and the families of the assassinated farmers on this sad development. We pray that God will see the nation through these difficult times.”
Governors seek overhaul
Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, called for a complete overhaul of the nation’s security architecture.
In a statement by his spokesman, Muktar Gidado, the governor commiserated with the President, Borno and the victims’ families.
He said: “As tempting as it is, we believe that this is not a time for blame game or name-calling.
‘Rather, the moment calls for sober reflection, for a closing of ranks by the political and military elite as well as other stakeholders, to work out a solution to this protracted destabilising insurgency.
“It is also with every sense of responsibility that we want to place on record our view that the security challenges plaguing the entire country demand a complete overhaul of the prevailing national security architecture so that the gaps in intelligence gathering, human capacity and firepower, can be sufficiently ameliorated.”
Gombe State Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya also condemned the gruesome killings.
In a statement by his spokesman, Malam Ismaila Uba Misilli, the governor said Northeast governors were stepping up regional collaboration for sustainable peace and security.
“This dastardly attack on innocent farmers further proves that these terrorists are totally heartless, inhuman, and have no regard for life,” he said.
Yahaya urged security agencies on the frontline not to despair or succumb to insurgents.
The governor said: “It is imperative that our security agencies step up their operations and consign these attacks by Boko Haram to the past.
“Borno State and indeed the entire Northeast is in a difficult situation at the moment and in dire need of all the help and support to overcome the challenges at hand.”
Senate caucus urges action
Senate Minority Caucus expressed deep sadness over the gruesome killings.
Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, in a statement by his media adviser, Uchenna Awom, said: “We are horrified that our people, particularly the farmers who are toiling tirelessly to sustain the nation’s food security has always become the target of the insurgents.
“This is so horrendous and mind-wrenching. Of course, the unmindful slaughter of our people in such a dastardly manner is becoming way too many.
“It’s embarrassing to the country and calls to question the government’s strategy and capacity to tame the rising wave of insurgency and banditry ravaging a large swath of our dear nation, particularly in the Northern region.”
The caucus, Senator Abaribe said, urged the government to up the ante in the fight against the “frightening” insecurity.
It added that it is no longer enough for the Presidency to always issue tepid statements by the condemning attacks and daily killing of citizens.
The caucus said now is the time to take decisive action and review its strategy since it seems the current one has failed woefully.
It commiserated with the government and people of Borno State and prayed that God will console the families of the victims.
Senate spokesman: sack service chiefs
The lawmaker representing Osun Central Senatorial, Senator Ajibola Bashiru, said there was the need for the government to decentralise the country’s security architecture.
Bashiru, who is the Senate spokesman, spoke while featuring on Rave FM, Osogbo during a talk show, Frank Talk, monitored by our correspondent.
Bashiru questioned the retention of the service chiefs.
He said: “I will say with all modesty, humility and in line with my oath to the constitution, our government is not doing well at all in the area of security.
“Section 14 of the Constitution states that security and welfare should be the primary purpose of government. You will discover that security is even mentioned before welfare. A society that is not secure cannot talk about welfare.
“Our administration, I am not blaming anybody, I am blaming us as an institution – we have not done well in the area of security. We have not done what we ought to do. This is not all about what happens to rice farmers in Borno.
“The killing of farmers – I find it very hard to sleep. It was scary when you see the body of people, you see innocent farmers been brought down in those circumstances.
“With that lamentation, I think I will reiterate the call of the National Assembly that the Executive should look into the question of the propriety of retaining the service chief.
“This has been a resolution that we had passed to the executive arm. There is a need to dismantle the over-centralised unitary security architecture of Nigeria.
“I have sponsored a bill of state police now it is before the Constitutional review committee.
“The executive needs to work to decentralise the police operationally and budgetary along the zonal line and still structure. We will be wasting our time if this is not done.”
Activists, party: ‘service chiefs have failed’
The Alliance for the Survival of Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB) urged President Buhari to go beyond rhetoric by changing the Service Chiefs because “the savage killings was a signpost of incompetence and ineptitude”.
In a statement by its Chairman, Femi Falana (SAN), the group said concrete action is required beyond the usual condemnation and promises that the perpetrators would be brought to book.
It recalled that the National Assembly had passed resolutions calling on the President to sack the service chiefs in view of the worsening security situation in the country.
It added that the leaders of the National Assembly had also held meetings with the President on the subject matter but wondered why the President is reluctant to remove them and tweak the security architecture.
The statement reads: “On June 18, 2020, President Buhari finally admitted that the efforts of Nigeria’s security chiefs against insurgency were not enough.
“He expressed this in a meeting held with the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Monguno (retd), said that President Buhari told the security chiefs that he would no longer take excuses from them and that he expected them to henceforth live up to expectations.
“No doubt, the service chiefs have tried their best to secure the country’s population and its territory.
‘But since President Buhari has come to the conclusion that the service chiefs are not doing enough to secure the country he ought to relieve them of their appointments and appoint new ones in the overall interests of the people of Nigeria.”
‘President should visit Zabarmari’
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Lagos condemned the gruesome killings, describing it as ‘extremely wicked’.
The party, in a statement issued by the state Chairman, Mr Femi Olaniyi, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said it was disturbed by what he called the government’s failure to take decisive action against the insurgents in spite series of concerns raised by the Borno Governor, Babagana Zulum, over security compromises in the state.
This, according to Olaniyi, has continued to embolden the insurgents to the extent that they attacked military formations, convoys of state governors and innocent citizens.
He advised President Buhari to re-jig the security architecture and replace the service chiefs with more capable hands to effectively tackle the country’s security challenges.
“Mr President should immediately move to Zabarmari in Borno to empathise with the families of the victims and lead from the front to restore security in the area,” he said.
A former governorship candidate in Imo State and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Uche Nwosu, has condoled with the Borno and the victims.
He called for collaborative action to end the killings and restore peace in the state known for its hospitality.
Nwosu said: “I am particularly pained by this death because of its personal significance to me. As one who grew up and had part of my secondary education in Gubio, which is few kilometres away from Kwashabe, I still remember with nostalgia, the peacefulness and hospitality of Borno.
“But all that seems to have been consumed by flames of violent hate and savagery of terrorists, who derive joy in spilling the blood of innocent and vulnerable people.
“I pray passionately for peace to be restored to Borno and for these killings to stop.”