Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has come hard on President Muhammadu Buhari over his London statement(to Archbishop Justin Welby) on killer-herdsmen
The President on Wednesday in London said the late Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi’s gunmen were the killer-herdsmen.
The gunmen, he said, infiltrated Nigeria and other West African countries after Gadaffi’s death in 2011.
At plenary yesterday, Abaribe drew senators’ attention to the President’s statement, which he described in unprintable words.
He said: “This chamber has discussed the killings in Nigeria. I recall that on the matter of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, two explanations were given by high-ranking security personnel. The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, said these killings were as a result of laws being passed by states.
“Secondly, the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali said that these killings were as a result of the blockade of grazing routes. And we continued to look at all these explanations.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) in London, President Muhammadu Buhari said that these killings were as a result of the people who were trained by Muammar Gaddafi.
“Mr. President was implying that these people who are doing the killings in Nigeria are invaders from outside of Nigeria.
“If so, it validates my point in this chamber that when a Commander-in-Chief says he cannot take care of invaders, why is he still a Commander-in-Chief?
“Why do we still continue to indulge this President that goes around to tell everybody outside this country that he is totally incompetent? It is obvious…”
Some of his colleagues, who found his words distasteful and harsh, attempted to shout him down.
But Abaribe stood his ground and insisted on having his way.
Lawan promptly raised a point of order to cut him short.
Coming under Order 53 (7) on the need to avoid the use of offensive words in the Senate, he said: “The President is the leader of this country and he deserves the respect and courtesy of this chamber and those of us in it. I was once a member of the opposition and I do not recall ever calling the then President incompetent or insulting him. This is our institution. If we do not conduct ourselves with respect, nobody will. I want to ask my colleague to immediately withdraw his statement and apologise to this chamber”
Saraki asked Abaribe to be guided as an elderstatesman, adding that it was obvious the senator used certain words that were unacceptable.
Saraki asked Abaribe if he had concluded his submissions as tempers continued to rise.
The Senate President added: “We can make our points without using words that are offensive. Please be guided accordingly.”
Abaribe replied: “I am very well guided by you but there are words that there are no alternatives to. What I did was to interpret the words by Mr. President in London. If any word I used is misunderstood by anyone, I apologise.
“What I am saying is simple. The heads of security in Nigeria made several explanations for the killings of our people. It shows that there is a disconnect…”
Abaribe could not conclude his submission because of the tense situation.
Saraki responded to douse the tension, saying:
”Leader (Lawan) came with a point of order and you have complied by an apology. Have you finished?
Before Abaribe could take the floor, Na’Allah raised another point of order also aimed at stopping the Abia South lawmaker.
Na’Allah said senators were forbidden by their rule to discuss the President’s or judicial officers’ conduct without a substantive motion.
Saraki sustained Na’Allah’s point of order to halt Abaribe’s submission.
Some senators were seen crowding Abaribe’s seat after Saraki’s ruling in a move to prevail on him to sheathe his sword.
Saraki quickly signalled to Lawan to move to the next item on the order paper.
PDP, Balarabe, Agbakoba, Olanipekun, others differ
There were divergent views yesterday on the President’s London statement on killer-herdsmen.
Some hailed him for unveiling the identities of the killer-herdsmen, others deplored the statement.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the statement showed that the government could not handle security challenges.
“We invite Nigerians to recall that in November 2017, President Buhari had informed the Nigerian community in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire that Gadaffi’s fighters were responsible for the escalation of Boko Haram insurgency.
“This time, Mr President has revealed that the killer-herdsmen ravaging our nation and killing our people are from Libya.
“If the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government knew all these that the marauders and insurgents are invaders, then why is it engaging them in dialogue, reportedly paying ransom and even considering the amnesty option for them.
“In the same vein, Nigerians should demand explanations from President Buhari on why his administration has been asking the victims of marauders’ attacks in various states, particularly, Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Plateau, among others, to learn to accommodate, if it knows that the attackers had links with Libya.”
Former Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) President Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said Nigerians were tired of complaints, adding that they are only interested in a workable solution.
He said: “Whether they are from Libya or not, what is evident is that the President has not displayed efficiency. Blaming Libya is not the issue. What is the President doing? Is he doing anything to resolve it? He knows the source of the problem. Let him now tackle the problem.”
Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) Leader Alhaji Balarabe Musa said the President may have spoken the truth because he has access to security information as the chief security officer.
He urged him to act with speed, saying the solution to the challenge is more important than its attribution to foreign elements.
Musa, a Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, said: “The President knows better. He is the chief security officer. He may not be far from the truth. But, that does not mean that we should not resolve the issue to the satisfaction of all.”
Afenifere leader Chief Reuben Fasoranti blamed the President for negligence, saying the borders are porous.
He said: “What are the security men doing? Why allow foreigners to infiltrate our country? They are careless. It is either they colluded with foreign elements or they are careless.”
Activist lawyer Festus Keyamo (SAN), said: He said some of these armed men found their way into Nigeria pretending to be herdsmen but they are actually those who fled from Libya. What the President said is a known fact. He did not say anything strange at all. That people with arms fled Libya and invaded most of the countries north of the Sahara, around the Magreb and West Africa, including Nigeria, has been discussed globally on issues concerning terrorism.
“Most world bodies and researchers on terrorism have said that those people who escaped from Libya with arms found their way into different countries in West Africa. To solve the problem, we have to disarm them and the President has already given that order over a month ago.
“He said everybody, including herders, seen with arms should face the law. I agree that nomadic cattle rearing should also stop. Our borders are supposed to be well policed but the
issue of corruption in our border is still high.
“You cannot police every single strand of our borders. It is not the President that will go and stay at the border. The problem of porous borders did not start today. It’s as far back as 1961 that is why smuggling has not stopped.
“The way forward in my opinion is for some of the herders to be used as example. If found with arms; they should be prosecuted and punished”.
Another former NBA President Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) said Gaddafi died several years ago, adding that this leads us to the puzzle , “when in his life time did he start training them ? How and when did he recruit them? When did the Nigerian government discover this mystery? And why did Mr President not inform us at home at any time before his disclosure in London.
“To me, the mode of dissemination of this important information in a foreign land isn’t tidy enough. Snippets of information about major events in our country shouldn’t come to us through second hand information released to foreign media by our leaders. It’s not fair to us as citizens. Lady May, the British Prime Minister, will never come here or go to anywhere to be supplying us or foreign citizens vital information about Britain. Those in charge of our foreign affairs should do more, and treat us with much respect.
“On the veracity of the allegation, there’s the urgent need for the Federal Government to properly align all the diverse stories and myth surrounding the emergence, training, sponsorship and funding of Boko Haram in the interest of our National security , and in order to realistically checkmate the scourge. This is yet another dimension to Boko Haram, which appears diametrically conflicting with previous editions.
A senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde said the President has superior access to intelligence report. So, if that is from his intelligence report, we cannot fault it”.
“As the President, he owes a duty to protect all Nigerians. So, if we have foreigners invading our farmlands and killing our people, then the President is the one to put the necessary machinery in place since they have confirmed to him that these killers are foreigners.
It is not a question of stiffer immigration laws. How can you apply immigration laws to people who just rear cattle across borders that have no security? They just walk in and walk out.
“So, how does an immigration law affect them? I think this is a security issue and the President as the Commander-in-Chief must take steps to keep the oath he swore to protect the lives of all Nigerians”, Ayorinde said