President Muhammmadu Buhari has agreed to honour the summons by the House of Representatives to address the lawmakers on the recent killing of 43 rice farmers in Zambarmari community in Borno State by the Boko Haram terrorists. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed Buhari’s commitment to honour the invitation after a closed-door meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, yesterday. The House of Representatives had, on Tuesday, resolved to invite President Buhari to appear before it and explain the worsening insecurity in the country.
The resolution was consequent upon the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Hon. Ahmed Satomi and all federal lawmakers from Borno State. On its part, the Senate reiterated his demand for the sacking of the Service Chiefs over their failure to address the worsening security situation in the country. Asked for his mission at the Villa, Gbajabiamila said: “We came to see the President on developments in the country.
He was so willing to listen as typical of the President, the usual democrat that he is. “What we basically sought was to convey the resolution of the House and to fix a date which we did not fix out of respect for Mr. President and his very tight schedule, what date will be convenient. “We have agreed on a date and he will meet with the House to address the situation.
We have fixed a date, but we will communicate with you. “He is a perfect democrat; he will come to the House to address members in the nearest future.” On how the President felt about the security challenges facing the country, he said: “I think he is more concerned than me and you. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
We will leave everything until when he comes to the House. Let me not pre-empt him. All I can tell you for now is that he is fully committed to the security of lives and property of Nigerians.” Asked specifically why the House summoned the President, the Speaker said: “He is coming to talk to Nigerians through the House. You know that the House, as is constituted, every Nigerian is present in the House. Every constituency in this country is represented in the House.
“So when Mr. President is talking to the House, he is talking to Nigerians through their representatives.” Before the decision invite the President was arrived at, the House had a rowdy session resulting into a closed-door session. Leading debate on the motion titled, “Urgent need to condemn and investigate the insane killing of unarmed farmers in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, Satomi said he was pained that more than 43 people were killed in an “insane” and barbaric attack on rice farmers in Jere LGA on Saturday 28th November.
Satomi said he was troubled that the attackers tied up agricultural labourers working in rice fields and slit their throats in Zabarmari village near Maiduguri. The lawmaker consequently called for the declaration of state of emergency in the security sector. But one of the co-sponsors of the motion, Hon. Ahmadu Jaha, through a point of order, disagreed with Satomi.
Citing Order 6, Rule 1 of the House standing orders and rules, Jaha informed that the original motion to which he and his colleagues endorsed, had among the prayers to invite the president to appear before the House and explain the true state of security in the country, particularly in the North-East. He, therefore, proposed an amendment that the House invites President Buhari. Jaha’s amendment was overwhelmingly endorsed by the members.
However, Speaker Gbajabiamila objected, explaining that the resolution to declare emergency in the security sector was enough and should take precedence over invitation of the president. He said: “You can’t summon the president. It will be exposing the Nigerian Army’s plan to the Boko Haram.
It will be counterproductive.” But Gbajabiamila’s inter-vention was rebuffed by the lawmakers who protested vehemently shouting “no, no, no”. Also, House leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa attempted to calm down frayed nerves and pleaded that the plan to invite the president be dropped because it won’t be advisable to discuss the nation’s security in the open because of its sensitivity.
Ado-Doguwa’s plea was also rejected. Following the insistence of members, Gbajabiamila called for executive session. He said: “Honourable colleagues, I’m a little bit disappointed with a lot of these ‘no, no’. This is not the spirit with which we started this 9th Assembly. We will go into executive session and resolve this.”
After the executive session that lasted for about 20 minutes, the lawmakers reconvened and Gbajabiamila called on Jaha to move the motion for the invitation of the President. The motion was unanimously adopted. But no date has been fixed for the president’s appearance. Meanwhile, the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) has asked President Buhari to secure the lives and property of Nigerians or honourably step aside as President and Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
The demand came yesterday as the NEF expressed outrage over the gruesome murder of over 40 rice farmers in Zabarmari, Borno State. The forum stressed that the latest incident had exposed false claims by the military that it had technically defeated and decimated Boko Haram.
The forum said it was unfortunate that while the government had continued to promote a misleading propaganda about the defeat of Boko Haram, the terrorists have been on a killing spree on a daily basis in many parts of the defunct Northern region.
Director of Publicity and Advocacy of NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of the forum, appealed to President Buhari to strengthen security agencies to combat the worsening spate of insurgency, banditry and kidnapping in the country. In a statement released yesterday in Abuja, NEF said tackling these forms of insecurity will avert incidents of wanton killings in the country. “We are outraged at the killings of farmers in Borno and many other people on a daily basis in many parts of the North.
“Our voices have been raised without pausing for a long time against pervasive insecurity in our region. “We have consistently drawn attention to the apolitical nature to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping by those that are supposed to protect the people. “The lame excuse that farmers had not sought permission from the military to harvest produce merely exposes the misleading claims that our military has secured vast territories from the insurgency.
“These killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for a leadership that attaches priority to them,” he said. Baba-Ahmed alleged that in some parts of the North, many farming communities had not been allowed by bandits and kidnappers to return to their farms and plant crops since the commencement of the current farming season. He said that those who did were being prevented from harvesting by the same criminal elements.
“The prospects for famine are real in the face of limited production of food in many of our communities. “Life has lost its value and more citizens are coming under the attack of criminals. We do not see any evidence of willingness on the part of those concerned to provide security over Nigerians. “In civilised nations, leaders who fail to provide security will do the honourable thing and leave the stage,” Baba-Ahmed said.