From Fred Itua, Abuja
Members of the National Assembly have expressed worry over the worsening security situation across the country, saying they can no longer visit their constituencies.
Several senators and members of the House of Representatives told Daily Sun they were now key targets of bandits and kidnappers, especially in the north.
Last Monday, Senator Clifford Ordia, representing Edo Central, was attacked twice by bandits in Kogi State and Abaji area of Abuja while returning from his hometown in Edo State. Three policemen attached to him sustained various degrees of gun wounds.
Worried by the development, a senator told Daily Sun that last Monday’s attack on Ordia was the third on a serving member of the upper legislative chamber this year. He said the convoy of two senators from the South West were attacked but the incidents were not reported in the media.
The senator said a good number of federal lawmakers have also received threats that they could be attacked anytime. He said many senators and members of the House of Representatives, have applied for more police security even within Abuja.
This is despite a recent claim by former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, that over half of policemen in Nigeria were attached to politicians and high personalities.
For instance, the source said senators from Niger, some parts of Kaduna and many North West states can no longer visit their senatorial districts over fear that they could be attacked by bandits or abducted for ransom. He said lawmakers from states without functional airports have long refused to travel by road to their constituencies despite heavy security presence.
“As you know, the home state of the Senate president is under Boko Haram siege. Specifically, Geidam, which has the Inspector General of Police and a serving senator has been occupied by Boko Haram. Unfortunately, the senator from that place has been on medical tourism abroad for a while. In Niger State, no serving senator or a member of the House of Representatives can boldly travel home without the deployment of heavy security. Even with that, they have refused to travel home. They’re scared that they could be killed or abducted for ransom.
“It’s the same situation for senators and members of the House of Representatives from many states in North West. At best, they use the train to travel to Kaduna and it stops there. Anyone who proceeds beyond that place will be in trouble. The situation is that bad. I think for now, the only few senators who can travel home without fear are probably those from the South South and some from South East. For South West senators, they’ve to use the airport. Going by road is dangerous.”
Asked what can be done, the senator told Daily Sun that only President Muhammadu Buhari can fix the mess. He said though the National Assembly can amend the Constitution and unbundle the Police Force to enable states have their own police, it is unclear if President Buhari would sign it into law.
“Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, are loyal to President Buhari, as a result of that, they can’t allow lawmakers to indict him or pass a vote of no confidence in him. They will block that move. Unfortunately, Lawan’s home state, Yobe, is taking a heat.
“Even those calling for the recruitment of more policemen and soldiers, how will that solve that problem? In the interim, we need to find a way to solve the problem and that’s to get mercenaries to assist our armed forces. That’s the immediate solution. But the President is unwilling to do that.
“Right now, the only person who is safe in Nigeria is President Buhari. Not even governors or anyone else is safe. Everyone is at the mercy of bandits and other non-state actors. That’s how bad things have degenerated in Nigeria. No one is safe,” the senator added.
Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Ben Kalu, called for the establishment of state police and empowerment of vigilante groups in affected areas. He said state police will better understand their terrains and ensure that adequate security is provided.
“State police will tailor their responses to our specific needs which may not be as universal as those general commands make them look. Interventions will be quicker since commands will be closer home rather than always flowing from the central head office in Abuja, which often times are neither immediate or as responsive as expected.
“No one secures a place better than those who know and understand the terrain, culture, language and the people and their belief. The current model is not delivering the expected outcome and needs to be reviewed to reflect our dynamic situation as a society.
“With state police in place , most of the police stations will not be as empty as they currently are; states will train and hire more of their own to increase the safety of their people, thereby reducing the unemployment rate.
“In the absence of that, I support the approved Vigilante groups working closely with the security agencies to better police our communities. Community town unions and major stake holders should make contributions to help equip these vigilante groups.”