PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has been summoned by the House of Representatives to appear before lawmakers to explain his government’s security policy following the recent murder of 43 rice farmers in Borno State by Boko Haram.
Over the weekend, Boko Haram beheaded 43 farmers in Zabarmari, in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State as retribution for them cooperating with the military authorities. This cold-blooded murder has sparked widespread anger across Nigeria and yesterday, a debate on the matter got very heated in the House of Representatives.
Some lawmakers believed the president owed Nigerians an explanation on what his administration is doing to halt the killings, while some of his supporters vehemently opposed the move. Following heated arguments and an executive session later, the House resolved to invite the president to answer questions and a formal invitation is expected to be dispatched to him soon.
A motion of urgent national importance was sponsored by Honourables Ahmed Satomi, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, Zainab Gimba, Muktar Betara, Mallam Bukar Gana, Haruna Mshelia, Ahmadu Usman Jaha, Ibrahim Mohammed Bukar, Usman Zannah and Abdulkadir Rahis. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila invited one of the sponsors of the motion to amend the prayers inviting the president to come to the National Assembly.
Presenting the motion, Hon Santomi, the lead sponsor, excluded the invitation and asked for the declaration of a state of emergency on insecurity. However, coming under matters of privilege, Hon Jaha from Borno State expressed displeasure that the prayer was excluded after it was collectively agreed by the sponsors, insisting that it be included and the president invited to brief the House.
Hon Jaha said: “Mr Speaker, I stand here on behalf of the displaced people of Borno state who elected us. For your information, I was elected by those people, including those in the internally displaced persons camps to protect their interest and all the lawmakers from Borno resolved that prayers of the motion should remain the way it is.
“These security forces have been given all the support to do the job but if we invite them, they will say they don’t have enough equipment. Yesterday, the president said he has given them all the support to do the job but unfortunately, they failed to do it.”
Efforts by the speaker to make Hon Jaha withdraw the prayer failed as he insisted that all members from Borno State who sponsored the motion should agree first. Hon Gbajabiamila said it would not be ideal to invite the president because security matters cannot be discussed in public.
He said: “This is an appeal from the chair, we are talking about security matters. You and I know that the channel of discussion of security matters such as this will not be to invite the president to come and disclose issues of security and what they are doing. It will be counter-productive.
“The prayer is all-encompassing. By asking the President to declare a state of emergency, which is part of the prayers, it allows for extraordinary measures. That singular prayer is more important than the president coming to tell us anything, so, it is an appeal so that we don’t react based on the passion we feel. ”
Tempers flared when the House leader, Hon Alhassan Ado Doguwa said security issues were too delicate to be brought to the floor of the House. Hon Shehu Koko said the leadership of the House should interface with the president instead on the issue in view of the fact that security should not be discussed in the open but his stance was shouted down by a majority of members.
Hon Gbajabiamila expressed disappointment with his colleagues’ behaviour and on the resumption from the executive session, he invited Hon Jaha to move his amendment. His motion was unanimously adopted by members present.
In addition to inviting the president, the House wants the government to declare a state of emergency on the security situation. It also asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to involve the people of Zabarmari community in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.
Furthermore, the House also resolved to investigate the readiness of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria to manufacture arms and ammunition in view of the seeming frustration to procure weapons for the armed forces from other countries. However, a motion to amend the main motion sponsored by deputy minority leader Hon Toby Okechukwu, that Nigeria’s firearms law be amended to allow eligible people to bear did not scale through.