The House of Representatives has declared declared the recent killings in Plateau State involving over 200 people as genocide.
This was part of the resolutions by the House upon resumption from a three-week recess.
Members of the lower Chamber also directed the federal government to immediately establish orphanages in areas affected by recent killings, which had turned many children into orphans in order to ameliorate their sufferings.
The House which Condemned the killings and massacres in the strongest terms, urged government to take decisive steps to stop the killings and secure communities that had been under persistent attacks.
The designation of the massacre as genocide was largely to court the sympathy of the United Nations to take special interest in the deteriorating security situation in the country.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance on the massacre of over 215 persons in the state and sponsored by Hon. Istifanus Gyang (APC, Plateau) and four other members.
Also, in their resolution on the issue, the lawmakers further tasked the federal government to recover over 52 villages currently under illegal and forceful occupation in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bakkos, Bassa, and Mangy Local Government Areas and the displaced owners be resettled on their ancestral land.
It said failure to effect the recovery was akin to allowing a criminal to retain the proceeds of crime.
The green chamber further demanded that the masterminds and perpetrators of the attacks and massacres be arrested and prosecuted, adding that there should be a Coroner’s inquest and forensic examination of the weapons and ammunition used to determine the cause of deaths, calibre and source of the weapons used.
Among other things, the lawmakers urged President Muhammadu Buhari to go beyond verbal condemnation of the attacks and take decisive and practical steps to give effect to Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The House said the National Assembly should immediately revisit the constitution review exercise to empower states to establish state police for effective community policing and maintenance of law and order as the federal security architecture has failed to bring an end to violent attacks across the federation.
Gyang had in his debate expressed worry that the attacks had a pattern where once a community was attacked, it was cleansed by killing the native inhabitants, the houses burnt and destroyed and the vacated land taken over for occupation, noting that the cycle is a repeated and replicated in what had clearly manifested as a land grabbing agenda.
He noted that virtually all the theories known to peace building and dialogue had been experimented on Plateau without success to stop the attacks..
Hon. Idris Abdullahi Wase (APC, Plateau) in his contribution to the debate, opened a can of worms when he fingered some politicians whom he claimed are sponsors of the killings, adding that he had documentary evidence to support his position.
He said he would be willing to surrender the documents to support his claim even though he was aware of the attendant danger to his life.
The lawmaker urged those who fan the embers of violence to immediately stop the act.
However, given the weight of his submission, the lower chamber okayed a request by the Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), for Wase to be accorded state protection.
On her part, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu (PDP, Abia) said United Nations should see to killings in the country.
She also took exception to a recent television interview by Femi Adeshina stressing that he appeared to be insensitive to the killings in the country.
She said there appeared to be no direct integration policy by the government, adding that effort should be made to curtial proliferation of small arms as a way of addressing the continuing killings.
Hon. Baba Isa Kaita (APC, Katsina) blamed fake news for some of the killings, adding that some had been based on rumours and false video releases which had fuelled public apprehension about the situation in the country.
But his position was aptly challenged by Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) who said the killings he had personally witnessed in Benue as well as herdsmen wielding AK47 assault weapons could not be said to be the handiwork of fake news.
He said: “It’s not fake news or social media hype that 200 people in Plateau were killed as well as killings in other parts of the country. It’s no fake news that herdsmen brandish AK-47 assault rifles.”
Hon. Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano) said the issue should be debated objectively, adding that “We must criminalise any tribe in our debate. Being a Fulani man should not be seen as a crime.”
He had stepped in to correct the impression that Fulani herdsmen were responsible for the killings.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara said history will be hash to the present administration if it fails to stop mass killings of innocent Nigerians.
Speaking at the resumption of plenary yesterday, he said whatever achievement being recorded by the government will not be remembered if the orgy violence and mass killings of innocent Nigerians continue unabated.
According to him, “History will have a harsh verdict for us as a government if we fail to live up to this responsibility and it won’t matter if we succeed in other areas. Unfortunately, the stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system.
“The stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system. This must not be the case. Before we ebb to the realm of anarchy, we must rise up as true representatives of the Nigerian people to salvage the situation and defend our hard-won democracy.”
The Speaker argued that the unresolved issue of rampant killing of defenceless people, including innocent and vulnerable children and women, in various parts of the country, calls for a sober reflection adding that more concerted efforts by the National Assembly to exploit all our constitutional powers and privileges to ensure the protection of lives and property in the entire country by the security agencies.
Police Arrest 17 Suspects in Benue, Plateau
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has arrested 17 suspects in connection with the killings in the North-central states of Benue and Plateau.
The Force Public Relations Officer (PRO), Moshood Jimoh, at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, paraded the six suspects from Benue State, while 11 others from Plateau State are said to be in “police custody.”
Jimoh said that on June 27, 2018, the IG Intelligence Response Team (IRT) deployed to Benue State acted promptly on actionable intelligence and other information from concerned members of the public, trailed and arrested the six suspects in their hideout in a hotel in Naka village, Benue State and recovered the arms and ammunition listed above from their possession.
He listed the suspects to include: Victor Ganabe, 35 yesars – native of Gwer West, Naka, Benue State; Daniel Kyase, 33 years– native of Mbaku, Makurdi, Benue State; Alhaji Adajo Tomza, 28 years – native of Tse Egbe, Gwer West, Benue State; Msugh Teraki, 23 years – native of Sengv, Naikpe, Gwer West, Benue State; Julius Avaan, 49 years – native of Ikpayongu, Gwer East, Benue State; and Terkula Udeh, 37 years- native of Gwer West, Benue State.
He stressed that the arrest of the five suspects led to the apprehension of Benjamin Bagugba Tivfa, 32 years, who is a serving Councillor of Fidi Council Ward, Makurdi, Benue State.
According to Jimoh, “The bandits confessed that the councillor is a member of their gang and responsible for supply of arms and ammunition including money to finance their operations. The councillor admitted to have bought 15 rounds of AK47 ammunition from the last suspect, Sunday Cheche, 34 years – native of Guma LGA, Benue State and also confessed to have provided money to finance the operations of the gang.”
He said that the “bandits” admitted to have carried out several killings and armed robbery attacks on innocent people in different locations in Benue State.
He said that investigation is in progress to arrest other members of the bandits at large, adding that they will be arraigned in court on completion of the investigation.
The Force PRO also gave an update on Police Investigation into the killings of innocent people in Plateau State, saying that since the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris visited and assessed the security situation, things “has improved, peace and normalcy has been restored in the affected areas in the state.”
To this end, he said the Police Special Investigation Team, comprising the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), Special Tactical Squad (STS) and Technical Intelligence Unit (TIU) led by Commissioner of Police, IG Monitoring Unit deployed to Plateau State have commenced investigation and had recorded significant progress in getting to the root of the killings of innocent people.
Jimoh listed 11 suspects who he said, are now in police custody with the exhibits recovered from them.
He said they are assisting the police investigation team with useful information in the further investigation into the incident.
The suspects are: Biliaminu Abdullahi; Samaila Saleh; Muhammadu Kabiru; Aminu Mohammed; Alhassan Saidu; Abubakar Adam; Gazali Isah; Hamza Inusa; Yahuza Yau; Dahiru Ahmed; and Friday Musa, while the exhibits include five AK47 rifles and two live cartridges.
He assured the people of Plateau State of adequate security of lives and property in the state and hereby implored them to support the police personnel deployed in their localities to sustain the peace that have been restored to the state.
He, however, urged members of the public in the state in distress or with information for the Police Special Intervention Force and the investigation team can use the following numbers: 07059473022, 08038907662, 08075391844, and 09053872296.