The Senate on Wednesday resolved to make N10 billion available in the 2019 budget to cater for the internally displaced and other persons affected by the activities of bandits in Zamfara State.
This decision was taken after the Senate deliberated on a motion sponsored by Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central).
Mr Marafa, at the start of plenary, raised a point of order urging his colleagues to let him present a motion on “the need to create an intervention fund to cater for Internally Displaced Persons and other persons affected by the activities of armed bandits in Zamfara State.”
He began the deliberation by commending the Nigerians who held protests in the Federal Capital Territory and other states as well as outside the country.
He applauded the protesters for ignoring religious and tribal differences to show solidarity and oneness over banditry in the North-west state.
The lawmaker, however, lamented that despite efforts made to curb the menace, the activities of the bandits remain unabated.
He said over 11,000 male adults have been killed since 2011 in the state and the casualty ratio shows that the state remains far ahead of other states in the North-east and North-west affected by violent attacks.
While stating that insecurity has nothing to do with politics, the lawmaker noted that killings and kidnappings are now a daily affair in the state.
In his contribution, the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, described the issues as worrisome.
He lamented the absence of media personnel in the state to report the killings and called for the creation of state police.
“This is sad because media houses do not have correspondents in Zamfara. So, most of these killings are not in the open.
“I remember a part of the report from the delegation we sent to the state, said the whole of Zamfara engulfed, except one local government area. We don’t even know the state of that one local government area.
“Nigeria is the only country doing the kind of policing we are doing – which is the centralised policing. We need to consider decentralising the system.
“I also think the time is right in Zamfara to consider a state of emergency,” he said.
The Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan, urged his colleagues as well as the federal government to be practical in their approach.
He stressed the need to look for immediate and long-term solutions.
He, therefore, prayed that the security-related committees engage security agencies to figure out a better mode of operation to be applied.
Shehu Sani (PRP, Kaduna Central), also regretted that despite several operations carried out by the security agencies, none has solved the problem.
“The army has carried out several operations. Python, tiger, scorpion, lion and all sorts of ‘sloganeering’ operations. That has still not solved the problem.
“Recently the state government engaged hunters and bullet charmers. That has still not solved the problem.
“Two and half years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari visited the state. That has still not solved the problem.
“The country is at war. People killed in Zanfara State are more than the reports we get of people being killed in Somalia, Afghanistan,” he said.
He said the killings and kidnappings have gone beyond Zamfara State. According to him, it is now in Kaduna State.
He lamented the failure of the federal and state governments in handling the issue.
“Happenings in Kaduna is a fallout of what is happening in Zamfara. We are failing as a nation.
“These are symptoms of a failed state where the government has failed to tackle banditry. And governors should remain in their states,” he said.
In his remark, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said the chamber needs to look at the cause of the problem and proffer long-term solutions.
“I think we did that yesterday trying to strengthen the police and what we have before us, the Police Reform Bill which will be laid today.
“The sooner we pass that, it would help us in addressing this issue. And more importantly, is that we must still go back to what a lot of us have been advocating here. There is a need for us to have state or community police because it is a way forward.
”Otherwise, we will continue to run into these problems. On the area of oversight, there is a lot also that we need to do to ensure that we hold the security agents accountable and we need to move very fast this year.”
The Senate also urged the federal government to set up an ad hoc committee to be known as the Presidential Initiative of Zamfara with a 10-year life span to manage the said funds and subsequent allocations and donations.