The Senator Kabiru Gaiya-led ad-hoc Committee report on Southern Kaduna crisis was Tuesday rejected by the red Chambers due to lack of detailed investigation by the panel.
The panel which was set up in January, 2017 by the Senate with a view to finding lasting solutions to crises between farmers and herdsmen in Southern Kaduna was met with controversy in the course of the debate, particularly an aspect that indicted the security agencies.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Gaiya (an APC member from Kano State) had while reading the report of the committee, called on the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufa’i to publish previous white paper reports on Southern Kaduna crisis.
He also alleged that: “70 per cent of police officers posted to Southern Kaduna, are indigenes of the place,” a development he condemned and called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Ibrahim Idris, to correct the imbalance.
His submissions were stoutly rejected by the lawmakers.
Speaking on the issue, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, urged his colleagues to reject the report and insist that the committee is mandated to go back and do a thorough job and come up with clear recommendations.
Ekweremadu argued that the report failed to address the salient issues which the committee was mandated to address.
For instance, he said the committee failed to address the issue of arms proliferation in the country, which he said are sometimes tied to herdsmen.
The Deputy President of the Senate, also advocated that the whistle blowing policy should be extended to the security community, by urging Nigerians to blow the lid on people harbouring dangerous arms.
He also argued that since previous reports by various commissions of enquiry have not been implemented, perpetrators of the killings feel more emboldened to continue the killings.
Ekweremadu said: “I consider this issue to be very serious. We must accord it the seriousness it deserves. The committee has confirmed that the killings happened. The recommendations need to reflect more on the seriousness of this matter.
“I understand clearly that the chairman of the committee needs more time to do more work to show the whole world that this Senate is serious about this matter. Looking at the recommendations, they do not reflect the seriousness of the matter like I said. Suggesting that we use money from the Service Wide Vote to handle this matter shows that we do not understand the relevance of that fund.
“Today, we are talking about arms proliferation. We have a whistle blowing policy. We need to direct it more on those keeping those arms. We were told that the Nigerian Customs Service intercepted arms. Till this day, we have not been told who imported the arms.
“We cannot sit back and allow our women and children to be killed everyday. Our people are being killed in Enugu, Kaduna, Zamfara and in other parts of the country. This matter is serious enough for the committee to go back and do more work.”
Ekweremadu’s position was supported by Senator Barnabas Gemade who also faulted the interim report.
Gemade particularly faulted the recommendation that special grazing routes be created for herdsmen, while neglecting the plight of farmers.
“Even though this is an interim report, it is obvious that we ought to have brought this report to a level where we will establish the seriousness of the issue. I believe we have to look at all the issues. The suggestion about setting up grazing routes must be looked at.
“We must come to a point where we have to agree on what is good for everyone. Today, we need to look at those affected by this thing. In Europe, you do not need a visa to move from one country to another. But still, there is still strict movement of people.
“But here, there is no restriction at all. When we talk about these things, people think that the normads are targeted. That is not the issue. The issue is that, we must track genuine normads of this country who are doing business. We need to separate them from criminals. This committee has an enormous work to do. It should visit all the locations affected. The killings are still going on and they have not stopped.”
Ruling on the suggestions, Saraki urged the committee to accommodate all the issues raised and come up with a clean report. He also urged them to be time conscious while working on the report.
He said: “I think there are many other parts of the country we were hoping the committee will find out the situation there. These areas have not been covered. If it is the view of lawmakers that the report should be sent back and allow the committee to accommodate all the issues, we must do that.
“We need a more detailed recommendation that will address everything. The committee should address all the issues raised and ensure that they are accommodated,” Saraki noted.
Saraki, had in early January, shortly after the Senate resumed from its Christmas break, set up an 8-man committee, following a motion sponsored by Senator Danjuma La’ah, representing Kaduna South in the Senate.
Senator La’ah, had while moving the motion, noted that since 2011, various communities in Southern Kaduna Senatorial District of Kaduna State have been consistently attacked by herdsmen, resulting in deaths, injuries, loss of property and displacement of the communities.
He said since the 23rd of December, 2016, communities of Ambam, Gaska, Dangoma, Tsonje, Pasankori, Gidan Waya and Farin Gada of Iama’a and Kaura Local Government Area have been under serious attack by the herdsmen, resulting in several deaths, injuries, as well as wanton destruction of properties worth billions of naira.
He said: “The killings of citizens of Southern Kaduna amount to serious violations of the right to life, right to security of human persons, right to the respect of the dignity inherent in human being and right to property not only guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as Amended, but also of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the international convention on Civil and Political Right which Nigeria is a party.
“A total number of eight hundred and eight (808) persons were killed in 53 villages across the four Local Government Areas in the affected areas, while 57 people were injured, farm produces estimated at N5.5billion were destroyed and a total of 1, 422 houses and 16 churches were burnt during the attack.
“In the last one year, we have witnessed a harvest of killings by these marauding herdsmen with several cases of massacre in Agatu in Benue State, Uzo Uwani in Enugu State, with several attacks in Taraba, Delta and Edo States to mention but a few.”