Senate accepts blame,‘Shuts Down’,in Honour Of Slain Soldiers
The Senate on Thursday suspended legislative duties and adjourned sitting until Tuesday in honour of 44 soldiers killed by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno last weekend.
Media reports said the soldiers and nine farmers were killed in three days of attacks on some villages and a military camp by the terrorists.
The lawmakers’ decision followed a motion by the Deputy Majority Leader, Sen. Bala Na’Allah at the instance of the President of the Senate, Sen. Bukola Saraki.
In the resolution, the Senate also directed its Committee on the Nigerian Army to pay a solidarity visit to the troops in the battle front against insurgency in the North East.
The Army committee, in conjunction with its Defence counterpart, is also to investigate the causes of loss of troops, and if adequate measures are being taken by military authorities to protect their personnel.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Saraki reminded his colleagues of the death of the soldiers following a point of order raised by Sen. Ibrahim Dambaba (PDP-Sokoto).
Damababa, a member of the Army committee, had drawn the attention of members to an alleged inactivity by the committee’s leadership headed by George Akume (APC-Benue).
The Senator alleged that the committee, under the leadership of Akume, had not undertaken any oversight function duty on Army projects in the country.
“In fact, the only thing the committee has done that can be said to be oversight was our visit to the Army headquarters in 2016.
“In fact, Mr President, the Senate is completely detached from the Nigerian Army. We in the Senate do not know what the Army is actually doing.
“I want to say this again that there was a draft bill that was referred to the committee about two years ago, that bill is still lying down in the secretariat of the committee.
“This is because the leadership of the committee has not been able to give direction as to what to do with the bill,’’ Damababa said.
He moved that the Committee on Ethics and Privileges be directed to investigate the conduct of the committee and why its leadership should be allowed to stand as it was.
He warned that the alleged inactivity of the committee would drag the Senate into disrepute if nothing was done to reverse the situation.
Ruling on the point of order, Saraki urged the Majority Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe), to discuss with the committee’s leadership and report back afterwards.
Saraki then reminded the lawmakers of the fallen soldiers, who “paid the ultimate price’’ in their service to the nation.
He wondered why nobody deemed it necessary to move a motion in their honour.
It was at this point that Na’Allah moved the motion, which elicited emotional contributions from several senators.
Na’Allah decried the plight of military personnel fighting insurgency in the North East.
The contributors include Deputy President of the Senate, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Leader of the Senate, Sen. Ahmed Lawan, Minority Leader, Sen. Biodun Olujimi, and Sen. Andrew Uchendu (APC-Rivers).
They emphasised the need for the Senate to show more concern in the affairs of the military and welfare of its personnel.
To this end, they called for a strong resolution urging the Federal Government and military authorities to adequately equip the personnel and take care of their welfare, among others.
Na’Allah had initially made three prayers in the motion namely observance of one minute silence in honour of the slain soldiers, the condolence visit and investigation by the Army committee.
But Uchendu added that the Senate should “shut down’’ for one whole day, rather than observing a mere one-minute silence which he said was not enough.
He said “Mr President and dear colleagues, I have no reason to doubt the figure (of the 44 dead soldiers), but if that figure is correct, then this Senate must come out and show massive concern, not just one-minute silence.
“We must shut down for one whole day in honour of those fallen heroes,’’ he said.
Other senators, including Ekweremadu, later added the prayer that the Army committee should visit the soldiers in the war front.