Benue killings: Senate summons Police IG over failure to arrest suspects …we’re doing our best, says Pres. Buhari

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The Senate on Wednesday summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, for alleged non-compliance with a directive by the lawmakers to arrest and prosecute the suspected herdsmen who attacked communities in Benue State, killing 73 people.
Idris was asked to appear before the Senate Committee on Police Affairs on Thursday (today) to explain why a resolution by the upper chamber of the National Assembly asking him to arrest and prosecute the suspects was not complied with.
The committee was asked to report to the Senate on Tuesday, when the chamber would deliberate on the next line of action.
The Senate had, at the plenaries on January 16 and 17, 2018, debated killings by herdsmen and other armed groups across Nigeria.
Part of the resolutions passed was for the police boss to arrest and prosecute the suspects within 14 days.
The ultimatum expired on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Senator Joshua Lidani (Gombe-South) reminded the lawmakers that the ultimatum had expired and the IG had yet to prosecute any suspect.
Lidani said, “You will recall that this Senate passed a resolution when it was considering the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Security which, among other things, visited Benue State regarding the killings that took place on or about January 1, 2018.
“The Senate clearly resolved that the Inspector-General of Police be given two weeks within which he should identify and arrest those who perpetrated the killings in Benue.
“This resolution was passed and was transmitted to the IG but to the best of my knowledge, no arrest has been made and no information has been brought to the Senate as regards the resolution.
“I therefore will like the Senate President, in line with this resolution, to compel the IG to appear before the Senate to explain why he has not complied with the resolution of the Senate.”
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, expressed displeasure with the police boss’ inaction.
Saraki said, “I think the integrity of the institution must be taken seriously. I think the Senate Committees on Police (Affairs); and Intelligence should summon the IG to come by tomorrow (Thursday) to make an explanation on where we are on this two-week ultimatum. These two committees should report to us by Tuesday.
“We must make it clear to security agencies that ultimatums cannot be taken lightly. If they think we are just going to sweep this thing under the carpet, the answer is definitely no.
“President Muhammadu Buhari said he told the IG to ensure speedy prosecution and we have yet to see that. The IG knows that he needs to take this seriously.”
The Senate had on January 15 passed resolutions, including the ultimatum to Idris, when they adopted an interim report by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Security Infrastructure of Nigeria.
Saraki had on the same day led the leadership of the chamber to Buhari to deliver the resolutions personally.
Buhari has, however, faulted the position of the Senate that the Federal Government failed to address the killings by herdsmen.
In a letter, which the President of the Senate read at the plenary on Wednesday, Buhari listed efforts made by him to end the killings.
The letter was dated January 25, 2018, but according to the stamp on it, it was received by the Office of the President of the Senate on Tuesday.
It was titled, ‘Re: Report on the Review of Security Infrastructure of Nigeria on the Emergency Visit to Benue.’
The letter read in part, “To infer that nothing has been done is incorrect. The police are working to apprehend the culprits of these heartless killings. Furthermore, I have instructed the Inspector-General of Police to relocate to Benue State and deploy forces in the most sensitive areas.
“The Federal Government is initiating additional measures to address these and other security challenges, alleviate the consequences of these attacks and forestall a recurrence.
“The Senate resolutions itemised in your letter will be taken into consideration and I am instructing all relevant MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) to factor them in their work.”
Buhari stated in the letter that he agreed that there was a need to review the security architecture of the country.
The President added, “On December 19, 2017, to be precise, while receiving the report by the committee which I had set up to review the operational,  technical and administrative structure of the National Intelligence Agency, I underscored the need to review the entire national security architecture as I promised in my inaugural address on the 29th May 2015.
“Action is being initiated and I expect to receive maximum cooperation from the Senate.”
According to the President, contrary to the resolution of the Senate, the police were making “strenuous efforts” to restore peace and security in Benue.
“Several courses of action have been taken prior to the Senate resolution,” Buhari stated in the letter.
The President recalled that he sent the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.) and the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations), Joshak Habila, for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation, while he was briefed verbally by the IG that “calm had then been restored.”
“On Monday, 8th January, the Minister of Interior met with the following: Governors of Adamawa, Kaduna, Niger, Benue Taraba and Nasarawa states, together with the Director General of the Department of State Services, Inspector-General of Police; Commandant General, Civil Defence; Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Commissioners of Police of the six aforementioned states and Comptrollers of Civil Defence from the six aforementioned states.
“After the meeting, I instructed the Minister of Interior to brief you (Saraki) on the information gathered so far and steps taken. On Tuesday, 9th of January, I had a long session with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State during which I informed him that police arrested some suspects with Kalashnikovs (rifles).  In addition, I told him that I have instructed the IG to speed up trial and prosecution of the suspects and give wide publicity of the police efforts.
“At the instance of the governor, a meeting was held in the Presidential Villa on 15th January with a wide cross-section of Benue personalities where frank and open discussions were held and everybody appreciated the complexities and difficulties of this farmer-herder strife. I assured all and sundry of my commitment to ensure that justice is expeditiously done,” the letter added. – Punch.

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