Senate decries collapse of Nigeria’s security architecture

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The upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday observed that Nigeria’s security structure has collapsed, identifying this as the reason behind the rising spate of insecurity across the country.

The upper chamber observed that many lives were being lost in the country to clashes and crimes without a major step by the government to stop the killings.

The lawmakers took turns to X-ray the issues affecting the security of lives and properties in the country while speaking on a motion moved by Senator Tijjani Kaura (Zamfara-North), entitled ‘Urgent Need to Look Into the Killings and Arson that Took Place in Shinkafi Local Government Area of Zamfara State’.

The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, in a summary of the contributions by the senators, held that the consensus was that the country’s security system had failed.

He said, “Clearly, all the messages that are coming is that there is definitely a collapse of what is either called security infrastructure or national security, with this level of impunity. The impunity being that people all over now illegally carry arms around the whole place. The fact that in the past, many committees had been set up to look at the reformation of the police but as of today, no action has been taken.

“Issues were raised on whether there is the need for what is called state police or community police but the big point is that it is for us to redesign the structure and based on that decide on what the solution is, not the solution before the design.

“Of course, the issue of funding of our security agencies is there too. And we have shown here many times how committed we are and our national approach to major government issues. We must be able to define exactly what we want to do in taking this problem head-on.”

The upper legislative chamber also reacted to the recent standoff between operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Newsworth recalls that operatives of the DSS on Tuesday prevented the anti-graft agency from arresting a former Director-General of DSS, Ita Ekpeyong, and the recently sacked Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ayo Oke.

Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West) moved a motion during plenary, lamenting that the standoff between the EFCC and DSS was an embarrassment before the international community.

According to Melaye, “Mr President the media and social media, print and electronic have been awash with a disaster that took place yesterday.

“The EFCC went to the residence of the DG of the SSS Ita Ekpeyong to effect an arrest and the SSS stopped the EFCC from arresting him, they created an environmental brouhaha, the whole environment of neighbours were stopped from lawfully gaining entrance to their homes and causing confusion.

“The same yesterday the EFCC the former DG NIA, Mr Oke, officers of the NIA agency stopped that arrest. We will recall that the same director of SSS have written this senate before now on Mr Magu, the acting chairman of EFCC. Mr President we are not to say who is to blame but to say we have been embarrassed before the international community that two sister agencies will engage in fisticuffs and stoppage of arrest. This is recipe for national disaster.”

Contributing to debate on this motion, Senator Abiodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South) said this is the first time “we will see gross irresponsibility in government” where no one would come in between two agencies.

She continued, “The truth is that we cannot go to a house of a security agent, a man who have kept the secrets of Nigeria for so long and just try to arrest him like chicken.

“There has to be someone we can hold responsible when two brothers are fighting, the person that is supposed to be held responsible is not doing his work.

“This is the first time we will see gross irresponsibility in government whereby there is on one to come in between two agencies. These two agencies report to one person – the presidency and now we find them fighting on the pages of newspapers, it’s a shame.

“We are calling on Mr President to sit up. We rejected Magu as the chairman of the EFCC and up till today nothing has been said.

“The Senate is being defiled, nobody has said we need to solve the issues. There are 170 million Nigerians and all of a sudden we are seeing that one person is the only one? Nobody is in charge of this government.”

The Senate thereafter resolved to set up an ad hoc committee “to review the current security infrastructure of the country, and in consultation with the security agencies make necessary recommendations on the way forward in the security arrangement.

Setting agenda for the proposed panel, the Senate President said, “The purpose of us setting up an ad hoc committee is to take the responsibility of driving the process and the committee will address all the issues.”

He added, “The key thing is that we must find a solution to this. We must take the bull by the horn and drive this process. I believe that the kind of members we will have in that ad hoc committee must be members who must look at it in a nationalistic point of view, drop politics and other issues. I can assure you that we will come up with a way forward and this will not be a report that will just lie (unimplemented); we must come forward, bring it before us here, debate it and work out the way forward.

“This is a commitment that we have all made to the country. The leadership will look at, between today and tomorrow, the composition of the committee. The senators who have the privilege to be in the committee carry a huge responsibility for this country.”

He stated that the problem over the years is that the government has refused to face the problem head-on, adding that “We don’t want to deal with it because it has a lot of issues”.

According to Saraki, “It is time now. We cannot continue as a society where people will just be dying on a daily basis and we cannot come up with a resolution. I know it is not going to be easy. I am happy that we have former governors here; we have aspiring governors here; we have long-serving senators who have made governors, they are here too. The three groups should be able to come together.

“Even if we talk about funding, it is here. The new technologies that countries are using require funding. I think that what we need to do now is to take this as a responsibility and make it work. If it requires Constitution amendment, so be it. If it requires extra funding, so be it. Whatever it requires, we must do it.”

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