The Senate, on Wednesday, instructed its committee on National Security and Intelligence; Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to summon the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr. Babagana Monguno and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami over claims that the Kogi State House of Assembly has passed a law to establish a vigilante group.
The Senate, however, rejected moves to investigate the Rivers State House of Assembly and Governor Nyesom Wike for passing a law to set up a similar vigilante group, named Neighbourhood Watch.
Dino Melaye, who is in a running battle with the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, brought up the matter on the floor of the Senate.
While the Senate adopted the only prayer that the NSA and AGF be invited to discuss ways of disbanding the vigilante group in Kogi State, the Red Chamber rejected an additional prayer by Magnus Abe, wherein he called on the same committee to extend its tentacles to Rivers State.
“In my own state, the Rivers State House of Assembly has passed a law arming Neighborhood Watch. The law gives the governor the power to control this group. This is not a Kogi problem. Rivers State is also involved.
“Our constitution does not currently support the creation of state security forces. We should get the AGF involved. As of now, we have made any amendment to allow states make the kind of laws they are making now. If we allow this kind of thing to go on Rivers State, we cannot tell where this will lead to,” Abe had advocated.
His position was countered by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators. Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in his remarks, said since the upper chamber was not in possession of a copy of the law passed in Rivers State, lawmakers should restrict themselves to the Kogi issue.
He said: “Since we don’t have details of what the Rivers State House of Assembly has done, I think we should restrict ourselves to Kogi State alone.”
“We have very few number of policemen. The soldiers have been brought in. Even the soldiers are overstretched. Our security agencies are overstretched. Our security forces cannot protect our people. I am an advocate of state police.
“If the National Assembly can amend the constitution to make room for state police, we can regulate what states are doing. We should begin to take seriously the issue of state police. We should come up with state police,” Ekweremadu added.
He was supported by the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi. She argued that ” since we are not talking about states where there are serious security challenges. We should always confine ourselves to the issues at hand so that we will not water down the issue.”
Victor Umeh who represents Anambra Central, while contributing, hailed the success of vigilante group in his state. He called on lawmakers to deal with the issue in states where governors abuse the process.
He said: “Its unfortunate that Kogi State has been in the news for sometime now. Vigilante services have worked in some states to maintain peace. I will give you Anambra State for example. The vigilante group was established there 9 years ago. It was set up to tackle the insecurity in the state.
“I want us to treat the issue of Kogi State as a special case. There was an order from the IGP recently that small arms be withdrawn from vigilante groups. My people told me that they are not comfortable with the plan to withdraw arms from vigilante groups. While we condemn vigilante groups in some states, others should be allowed to stay.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, has told his colleagues that soldiers deployed to Taraba State, are beating up people and dragging them out of their houses forcefully.
In a petition he laid on the floor of the Senate, Bwacha said that rather than maintain law and order, the soldiers are carrying out human rights abuses.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has referred the matter to the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for further investigations. The committee is expected to report back within two weeks.
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