Senate summons service chiefs, vows to ignore death threats

Mark-new_copy_copyOkays emergency rule, compensation for blast victims

Obasanjo weeps, curses at scene of Boko Haram killings

CAN accuses southern governors of insensitivity

 

ANGER reigned in the Senate yesterday over the raging terror attacks in the country as former President Olusegun Obasanjo wept at the scene of Boko Haram killings in Adamawa State.

Emotions rose at the session as each senator contributed to the debate on the danger terrorism was wreaking on national integration. The consensus of the lawmakers who featured in the marathon session titled: “State of the Nation,” was: “We must do all that is required to save the soul of Nigeria from bleeding.” They said history must not be allowed to repeat itself as the prevailing situation is akin to the pre-1966 episode, which led to a civil war.

The senators said they were ready to sacrifice their lives to ensure law and order in the country.

After the adoption of a motion by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Senate President David Mark, spoke on the dangers the lawmakers had been exposed to in their efforts to curb terrorism and the security challenges in Nigeria.

Mark said: “I want to thank all of you, those who have contributed and those who have not contributed because of the fearless manners in which you made your comments. I know that when it comes to the issue of Boko Haram, people have been very scared sticking out their necks or even making comments. But today (yesterday), we have broken that jinx and because we have been able to speak out, I hope well meaning Nigerians will be able to join us in condemning in totality, the existence and operations of Boko Haram in this country.

“We have terrorism and insurgency on our hands and if we do not handle them properly, they will get out of control. We must do everything humanly possible starting with communities, local councils, states and to the federal level to make sure that we nip them in the bud before they get out of control.

“We must not allow history to repeat itself. What is happening now is beginning to give an impression of 1966. It must not happen again, no nation may survive two civil wars and we must never allow ourselves to degenerate to that level.

“We all receive threat messages, the northern senators receive more. People send text messages to warn us that, ‘if you say this we will kill you, we are going to finish your family.’ The moment you accept a public office, your security is no more in your hands, it is in the hands of God. And if they want to kill all of us, 109 senators here, for Nigeria to survive, we for sure we will offer our lives on a platter of gold for them to do so. I urged those, who received text messages to disregard them completely because they cannot do you anything.”

To a sizeable number of senators, the current service chiefs should be booted out of office but others preferred another round of consultation with them. The latter carried the day and the Senate immediately summoned the security chiefs to appear before it today.

The Upper House also endorsed the state of emergency imposed on some local councils in the terror-hit states in the North by President Goodluck Jonathan.

They also demanded the payment of compensation to families who lost their relations in the Christmas Day bomb blast in Madalla in Niger State.

On Tuesday when the Chief Obasanjo arrived at the Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) on Church Street, Jimeta, Yola in Adamawa State, where Boko Haram members killed 11 Christians, he wept and cursed the perpetrators.

As he looked at the blood-soaked wall and floor, where the victims including the pastor of the church, his wife, and son were murdered in cold blood, Obasanjo’s crest fell, his eyes turned red. He held back himself but this was short-lived and before the entourage, including Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, tears began to roll down freely on his cheeks. He reached for his pocket for an handkerchief and mopped the tears.

When he regained himself, Obasanjo rained curses on the murderers. He said both in life and death, the killers would not know peace.

And in Lagos yesterday, the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemned the continued sectarian killings in the North and warned that it could lead to another civil war in the country.

National President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, believed that the National Assembly had not done enough to bring the Boko Haram menace under control.  Oritsejafor accused the National Assembly and southern governors of insensitivity to the growing terrorism and killing of Christians in the North.

He said the legislators were playing politics with the lives of innocent Nigerians, declaring that if they had mustered the same patriotism they had shown by cutting short their holidays to address the fuel subsidy removal, the Boko Haram menace would stop.

But yesterday, the sect leader, Abubakar Shekau, said the terror group would continue its attacks on Christians to revenge the killings of Muslims.

In a video message posted on YouTube, Shekau cited attacks on Muslims in recent years in some parts of the South as reason for the current offensive against Christians.

Shekau, who wore a red and white turban, a bullet-proof vest and sat in front of two Kalashnikov rifles, said he was responding to recent statements by President Jonathan and Oritsejafor on Boko Haram activities. He asserted Nigeria’s security forces would not be able to defeat the group.

The decisions of the Upper Chamber followed a motion moved by the Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu, to the effect that the chamber debated the orgy of violence occasioned by Boko Haram.

Citing the Madalla bombing in the motion, which was consolidated with another one by the Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba on ratification of the state of emergency declared by Jonathan in Niger, Plateau, Yobe and Borno states, Ekweremadu said: “The Senate notes with deep sense of grief the dastardly bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State on Christmas Day.”

He also named the bombing of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church, Jos, Plateau State and several churches and the State Security Service (SSS) office in Damaturu, Yobe State on the same day.

Ekweremadu said similar episodes of bombing and indiscriminate shootings of worshippers also occurred in other parts of the country notably in Gombe, Mubi and Jimeta between Thursday, January 5, and Friday, January 6, 2012 leading to several deaths.

He said the, “violent attacks and bombing of any form are callous and condemnable, the new waves of attacks on innocent and unsuspecting worshippers and places of worship, be it a church or a mosque, are bizarre affronts on our collective cultural and religious values, the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of worship, and an outright offensive against the Almighty God Himself.”

He consequently called on the chamber to resolve as follows:

• condemn the attacks in their entirety;

• commend Jonathan for declaring state of emergency in some of the affected parts of the country;

• call on the Federal Government to pay adequate compensation to victims of the Madalla blast and the bereaved as well as those who suffered the same fate in other places; and

• invite heads of security agencies to update the Senate on their efforts at mitigating the worsening security challenges in the nation.

Senators Olubunmi Adetunmbi (Ekiti North),

Heineken Lokpobri (Bayelsa East), Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East) Akin Odunsi (Ogun), Chris Anyanwu, Sola Adeyeye (Osun Central), and Uche Chukwumerije (Abia North) contributed to the debate where all the prayers of Ekweremadu were adopted.

Ndoma-Egba commended the Senate President Mark for visiting the scene of the Madalla blast and condoling the victims.

Mark had put the question and it was agreed that the emergency rule be endorsed while the Committees on National Security and Intelligence, Police Affairs and Defence should meet with the security chiefs today.

Obasanjo had heard that a nine-man terror gang invaded the church during a service and killed the victims last Friday night.

According to him, “God will not allow this agents of Satan to go free, these deadly gang will not see peace in their lives, the blood of these innocent souls will torment their killers even in their grave when these wicked people died.”

The former President tasked security agents to work hard to ensure that those behind the massacre of innocent citizens do not go unpunished.

He said masterminds of the Adamawa killings are bent on causing bad blood among Christians and Muslims, whom he said had lived together peacefully for ages.

Obasanjo who appealed to Christians in the state not to take the law into their hands, said that they should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and that vengeance belongs to God and not man.

Oritsejafor, who commented on reports that the Borno State government recently paid N100 million compensation to the family of Malam Kudu, father-in-law of the founder of Boko Haram, Yussuff, berated southern governors of not making efforts to engage their northern counterparts on ways to end the killings.

“I am really ashamed at southern governors whose citizens are daily being mauled down by a group of Islamic fundamentalists who are hell bent on annihilating Christians from the nation without any attempt to engage their northern counterparts on ways to end the madness.

“I am really ashamed. It’s amazing the kind of publicity the Borno State governor gave to the payment of N100 million compensation to the family of the late Yussuff’s father-in-law.”

While sympathising with Nigerians who are currently going through harsh economic conditions as a result of fuel subsidy removal, the CAN president said if the House of Representatives truly love the nation, they should have demonstrated it by holding a special session to end terrorism in the country.

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