Benue Killings: Senate rejects committee’s report
The Senate on Wednesday rejected the report of its Joint Committee on Police Affairs and National Security and Intelligence on the Jan. 1, 2018 killings in Benue.
It said the report failed to capture the views of the state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, on the issue.
The committee was on Feb. 1 mandated to summon the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, over failure by the police to arrest the perpetrators of the killings.
Presenting the committee’s report at plenary, Chairman of the committee, Sen. Abu Ibrahim, said the committee recommended that the Police should strengthen and utilise its intelligence gathering capabilities.
“The Police are grossly underfunded; therefore, it is recommended that a percentage of excess crude oil funds of about two dollars should be made available through appropriation to the Police to beef up its operations.
“Politicians and opinion leaders should desist from statements capable of inciting violence.
“Deliberate steps should be taken to disarm all armed militia groups in Benue and in the country in general,” he said.
Ibrahim said the committee also recommended that the Inspector-General should speedily prosecute those arrested and intensify efforts to arrest those at large.
He said the IGP appeared on Feb. 2 “and briefed the committee, informing us that following the outbreak of violence in parts of Benue, he led a team to commence on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
“The visit was to flashpoints of the crisis such as Logo and Guma Local Government Areas in Benue and Tunga in Nasarawa State.’’
Ibrahim said t there was a gap and serious defect in the intelligence gathering mechanism of the Police.
“Local government councils have been rendered ineffective thereby unable to deal with security issues before they snowball to crisis.
“Inflammatory statements, utterances and actions of some politicians and opinion moulders have been found to be promoting hatred and inciting violence,” he said.
Contributing, Sen. George Akume (APC-Benue) said “what I want to say is that this report would have been more rounded if the governor who has been so massively accused by the I-G was also invited to make input.
“The committee would have had opportunity to interact with him. I am informed that the mandate of the committee was restricted to the office and person of the I-G, and the IGP said he moved immediately to Benue.
“He didn’t move to Benue state on his own. Following outcries from the Senate, the president directed him to relocate to Benue for one week.
“His comment has always been very jaundiced. They are not based on professional soundness and they do not show any detachment and impartiality.
“It has everything to do with mischief and economic determinism. The IG has not been fair to the Nigerian people whom he has sworn to an oath to serve,” Akume said.
Also, Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, noted that the IGP, in his statement, copiously mentioned the governor of Benue in most of the paragraphs.
“But I didn’t see where the committee made an effort to speak with the governor.
“If in the circumstance, they did not interview the governor, and his name has been mentioned in respect to certain statements and actions, it would only be fair to him to be invited by the committee.”
But, Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi) said “for the first time, we are hearing suspects being arrested and charged to court.
“This is a very good beginning unlike other crises where police and other security agencies will not be able to arrest any suspect.
“But this one, the police have tried by arresting 125 suspects and others charged to court.
“The committee has made a very good recommendation on the funding of the police force.
“There is no way the police would be able to work if they are not funded and security matter is a very serious matter.”
Aliero said no amount was too much for government to devote in sustaining security of its citizens.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said there was no doubt that the report was incomplete.
“This is because there are observations on the comments of the governor; the Governor of Benue was not given the opportunity to comment.
“The only reason why I allowed Sen. Akume to speak was because I thought that would be the closest we could hear of the views of the governor.
“Let Sen. Abu Ibrahim go back and complete his exercise and present a complete report.
“That time, I will accept contributions from everybody. I think that is the way forward,” Saraki said.