‘It’s time to curb Boko Haram’
There was outrage yesterday against the killing of students in Yobe State by Boko Haram members. Human rights activists, lawmakers and lawyers flayed the attack in which 43 students died.
The Senate ordered Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Kenneth Minimah to relocate his office to the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, to tackle Boko Haram insurgents.
The Senate was moved to issue the directive, following Tuesday’s massacre of 43 students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State.
The upper chamber said that it was alarmed by the apparent upsurge in the activities of the insurgents.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence and Army, Senator George Sekibo, read the resolutions after a budget defence session.
The resolution to order the army chief to relocate to Maiduguri with immediate effect followed a point of order by a member of the committee, Senator Babafemi Ojudu.
Ojudu drew the lawmakers’ attention to the killing of 43 pupils in Yobe and demanded that drastic action be taken to halt the wanton killing of innocent people.
The point of order was sustained.
In the resolutions, the committee condemned “the atrocity being unleashed by the Boko Haram elements on innocent citizens, especially in the Northeast part of the country”.
The lawmakers said: “We regret what happened yesterday, the killing of innocent students in cold blood.”
The committee said that due to the gravity of the Yobe State incident, “the Committee on Defence and Army has by this issued a directive that the Chief of Army Staff take the following actions:
“Re-strategise on possible new ways of curbing these excesses, mobilise all available military resources and face the insurgents.
“We heard of your planned relocation to Maiduguri; we hereby, as the Committee overseeing your activities, direct that your office relocate temporarily to the 7th Division in Maiduguri and that you take urgent and appropriate steps to quell the situation.”
The committee also ordered that “from today, all schools and health institutions should be provided with special security, as we do not want a repeat of these killings of our innocent citizens.”It asked President Goodluck Jonathan to mobilise resources for the Armed Forces to “face this national challenge, as this battle must be won to sustain our nation’s stability and unity as it is only in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility that development can be carried out”.
The committee promised to take a tour of the affected states when the Senate resumes plenary.
It noted that because of the prevailing situation, “the committee will receive your budget proposal without going through the lines as no one goes to the town square to dance when there is fire in his house”.
The committee said that taking steps to quell insurgency and giving confidence of safety to Nigerians are of utmost priority to it.
The Chief of Army Staff told the committee that the military required funds to execute its responsibilities.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba, in a statement, said the insurgents had crossed the border of decency by killing over 43 students in Yobe State.
Ndoma-Egba noted that the killings showed that Boko Haram planned to plunge Nigeria into a “bleak and blank future”.
His words: “It is obvious that we are now dealing with a bunch of animals to whom human life is now totally meaningless and worthless because when you attack students, you are attacking the foundation of the country’s future.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it is grief-stricken.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, described the attack and killing of the harmless students as “monstrous and extremely shocking”.
The party said: “The massacre of these harmless students cannot be justified under any guise. Indeed, the PDP is heart-broken and extremely devastated by this act of wickedness which can only be associated with the devil.
“The PDP bleeds inside as we mourn the slaughtering of these promising young ones. Our hearts go out to the parents and families of these innocent students. We share in their anguish, their pain and their despair and we earnestly pray that those behind this act must not escape judgement for spilling the blood of the innocent. No man commits such wickedness and gets away with it.”
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has suggested a temporal relocation of pupils of the eight Unity Schools in the three troubled Northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to other schools outside the region.
The commission’s position is informed by incessant killings of school children in the states by the Boko Haram sect, particularly those on Tuesday at the Federal Government College, (FGC) Buni-Yadi.
In statement yesterday, NHRC Chairman Chidi Odinkalu described the development as alarming and saddening. He urged both political and religious leaders in the region region to speak up and take actions to discourage violence in the area.
Odinkalu urged the government to implement existing reports on how to ensure peace in the region.
“There is no way to minimise the shock and tragedy of these events. The perpetrators clearly do not wish Nigeria well. Words are not enough to condemn them and their conduct. “To the parents of the affected children, words are equally insufficient comfort or condolence. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. Condolences are also due to the Government and People of Yobe State and to the Federal Government.
“Education a basic right guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“These children were pursuing this right when they were killed. The pursuit of education cannot be cause for the mass murder of innocent children.
“FGC Buni-Yadi is one of a network of 104 so-called Unity Schools, begun in 1966 by the Federal Government and accelerated in the 1970s to foster national unity in Nigeria through learning and enlightenment.
“It truly hurts that children whom we sent to school as symbols of our unity as a country have become sacrificial offerings in some people’s project towards dis-unity. This must not be allowed.
“Confronting this requires collective leadership at all levels. At a time like this, it is necessary for political leaders across parties to sink differences, reassure the country, and discover in adversity such as this the will to forge common purpose.
“Sybolisms do matter. In memory of these children and all others lost in the ongoing situation in the north-east and as the institution of government closest to the people, our National Assembly should re-convene urgently in plenary.
“The plans for the Centenary celebration must reflect the tragic backdrop of the country at this time. A suitable period of national mourning will not be out of place.
In the interim, proposals for the transfer of children in the eight Unity Schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to other schools outside the region should be taken seriously.
“Many official reports, including the Marshall Dike report (2009); Galtimari Report (2011); and Turaki Committee Report (2013) already contain far-reaching proposals for addressing the situation in N.E. Nigeria.
“The Federal Government and the governments and people of the states in the Lake Chad area in Northeast. Nigeria deserve the support and ideas of all citizens, well-wishers and friends of Nigeria as they work to bring to an end to these atrocities,” Odinkalu said.
The Muslim umbrella body in the North, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), yesterday urged the Federal government to wake up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property and take practical steps to end the wanton spilling of innocent blood in the Northeast.
In a statement signed by the Secretary General of the organisation, Dr Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, the Muslim organization said that the unprecedented havoc being unleashed against innocent citizens in the country is becoming too much to bear and expressed fear about the likely consequences that may befall the state, if it does not swiftly act, to bring an end to these repeated spill of blood.
It wondered why the attacks is still going on in the area despite the state of emergency and numerous military check points, adding that it is hardly believable that such dastardly acts could still occur
The JNI statement said: “As always, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) will not be deterred nor will it over look things as they unfold, especially over the repeated wicked acts of terror being unleashed on the Muslims, hence JNI received with shock and distress the senseless killings at Federal Government College (FGC) Buni Yadi, Yobe State, by criminals and what so ever is/are their motive, they will not succeed, in-sha-Allah.
“The barbaric and heinous attack is utterly condemnable in its totality, considering the fact that just few days ago, Bama, Izge, Malari, all in Borno State witnessed similar attacks by the terrorists. However, we expect the Federal Government of Nigeria to wake up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property of Nigerians, especially in the North East and stop the diatribe. Human lives are sacred and must be treated so!
“Also, as with previous similar cases, the sporadic gun shots that ensued after setting the school ablaze is very worrisome and alarming. Therefore, JNI calls for practical probe that must bring such acts to an end.
“Despite the State of Emergency currently in place at Adamawa, Yobe and Borno States and the visible security check points at every nook and cranny of the states, it is hardly believable that such dastardly acts could still occur, thus JNI is seriously perturbed by such unabated repeated acts.
“It is pertinent to ask the following questions: According to sources, the army was withdrawn a day to the attack, why? What was the motive behind such heinous act? Why is it that the Northeast borders have been left porous despite knowing fully the repercussion of such? Indeed there is much more than meets the eyes!
“As the unprecedented havoc being unleashed against innocent citizens is becoming too much to bear and we fear the consequences that may befall the state, if it does not swiftly act, to bring an end to these repeated spill of blood.
“These repeated callous acts call for concerted introspection, as they again and again point to the fact that there is the urgent need for proactive and effective ways of addressing these precarious upheavals. Perpetrators MUST be fished out!
“Finally, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, JNI calls on all Imams in their respective mosques to commence Al-Qunut (special supplication during human or natural catastrophy, observed during the five daily prayers for ease and relief) and the generality of Muslims are also implored to fervently pray for the restoration of peace and security in Nigeria bearing in mind that without Nigeria there will be no Nigerians.”
To theNational Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akoh, his men would have stopped the mayhem.
Akoh, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, stated that though the organisation do not were arms, their said the presence of his men in the school would have helped.
He said: “Due to harassment to constant harassment we are having been facing in the Hands of the police, we have not been to send our personnel to these schools. The essence of the posting is monitoring of the movement of the students. We are not armed but by some degree, we can detect any irregular movement and quickly alert the security agencies to foster any terrorist attack.
“It is in the light of this renewed attack on institution of learning that we are compelled to use this medium to urge the Federal Government and the security agencies to be more proactive and decisive in checkmating the problem of insecurity in the country.”