The Senate on Wednesday aligned itself with the position of the House of Representatives and directed the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah to deploy troops and relocate temporarily to the 7th Infantry Division, Maiduguri, Borno State, in order to checkmate the Boko Haram sect, which has recently stepped up attacks in the state and Yobe.
The Green Chamber had on 17th February passed a resolution directing the Army Chief to relocate to Maiduguri after the insurgents massacred over 100 people in Borno state.
The Senate Committee on Defence and Army, which gave the orders today at a meeting with General Minimah and commanders of divisions at the National Assembly, also urged them to come up with new strategies on how to curtail the excesses of the Boko Haram sect and step up intelligence gathering so as to pre-empt potential attacks even as it decried the killing of innocent students in cold blood.
Chairman of the committee, Sen. George Thompson Sekibo also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to mobilize all needed resource for the armed forces to face “this national challenge, as this battle must be won to sustain our nation’s stability and unity as it is only in the atmosphere of peace and tranquility that development can be carried out”.
He added: “We hereby as the committee overseeing your activities, direct that your office relocate temporary to the 7th division in Maiduguri and that you take urgent and appropriate steps to quell the situation”.
Although the Army Chief was at the National Assembly to defend the 2014 budget of the Nigerian Army, the Senators refused to engage him on the budget estimate, insisting that “Because of the situation, the committee will receive your budget proposal without going through the lines as no one goes to the town square to dance when there is fire in his house.
“From today all schools and health institutions should be provided with special security, as we do not want a repeat of these killings of our innocent citizens. For us the quelling of this insurgency and giving confidence of safety to Nigerians is of utmost priority”, Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), said.
While condemning the atrocity being perpetrated by the Boko Haram insurgents, Sekibo disclosed that the committee will embark on a tour of the three affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, which are also under emergency rule when the upper legislative chamber resumes plenary sitting.
In his response, General Minimah thanked the committee for its concern and said, “…it will be the last of such from the insurgents”.