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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Senate Condemns, Rejects One-Sided Report On Benue Crisis

Senate Condemns, Rejects One-Sided Report On Benue Crisis

The Senate, Wednesday, openly scolded its Committee on Police Affairs for producing a one-sided and unbalanced report in the task given to it to unearth why the Nigeria Police failed to curb the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and others affected by the mindless killings.

The Committee headed by Senator Abu Ibrahim from Katsina state had at the plenary presented the report of his committee for consideration, but he got more than he bargained for as his colleagues openly rejected the report, which they condemned as too one-sided.

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The Committee had enumerated the opinion of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris who accused the Tivs of being the ones fuelling the crisis in Benue, saying they were the ones attacking and killing the Fulanis as against the impression that the Fulanis were the aggressors.

In rejecting the report, the Senate in plenary said that the report did not meet the standard of investigation as set out by the Parliament and therefore, asked the Committee to withdraw the report and do a more balanced and objective report and submit it within one week for the Senate’s consideration.

The Senate was particularly unhappy with the fact that the Panel failed to reach out to Governor Samuel Ortom to get his own views even after the panel had met the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, who spoke against the governor.

Senator Ibrahim in presenting his report highlighted the ‘achievements’ so far recorded by the Police IGP, a position seriously opposed by his colleagues who felt that the report is biased, unbalanced and incomplete.

Senator Ibrahim attracted further condemnations from his colleagues when he said that the IGP should be commended for his efforts after the Benue crisis.

The Committee recommended that the Nigeria Police Force should be encouraged to strengthen and fully utilize its intelligence gathering capabilities

It noted: “The Police is grossly underfunded, therefore it is recommended that a percentage of excess crude oil fund of about $2 should be made available through appropriation to the Police in order to beef up its operations.

According to the Committee, “Politicians and opinion leaders should desist from statements capable of inciting violence.”

It further recommended that deliberate steps should be taken to disarm all armed militia groups in Benue State and in the country in general.

Deputy President of Senate Ike Ekweremadu, was swift in pointing out the defects of Senator Ibrahim’s report as he noted that the comments of the IGP as recorded by the investigative panel was not right.

“In the statement made by the IGP, he copiously mentioned the Governor of Benue in most of the paragraphs but I didn’t see where the committee made an effort to speak with the governor of Benue.

“This is sad because if in the circumstance, they did not interview the governor, and his name has been mentioned in respect of certain statements and actions, it would only be fair to him, to be invited by the committee and hear his own side of the story so that we have a balanced view of what transpired.”

In his own contribution to the debate on the report, former Benue State Governor, Senator George Akume, drew the attention of the Senate to what he called serious case of abuse of oath of office by the IGP who he noted had become very unfair and unjust in the discharge of his responsibilities.

“I have gone through this summary, What I want to say is that this report would have been more rounded if the governor who has been so massively accused by the IGP was also invited to make input into it.

“The IGP went to Benue State, he was there for one day, he spent two days in Nasarawa and he left. His comment has always been very jaundiced. They are not based on professional soundness and they do not show any detachment and impartiality as far as this issue is concerned,” he said.

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The lawmaker faulted claims by the IGP on the arrest of some persons connected with the killings, pointing out that “As we speak, people are being killed in Benue, Nasarawa, Zamfara, Taraba states.

“We are simply saying that there are armed people who are going round killing our people. For me, it has nothing to do with religion. It has everything to do with mischief and economic determinism. The IG has not been fair to the Nigerian people whom he has sworn to an oath to serve,” he added.

The Committee was therefore mandated to withdraw the report and go hold an interactive session with the Benue Governor and submit it’s comprehensive report within a week.

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