House of Reps Designates Plateau Killings as Genocide
The House of Representatives has declared the killings in Plateau State as genocide.
It also directed the federal government to immediately run orphanages in areas affected by recent killings, which had turned many children into orphans in order to ameliorate their sufferings.
Condemning the killings and massacres in the strongest terms, the lower chamber urged government to take decisive steps to stop the killings and secure communities that had been under persistent attacks.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance on the massacre of over 215 persons in the state and sponsored by Hon. Istifanus Gyang (APC, Plateau) and four other members.
Also, in their resolution on the issue, the lawmakers further tasked the federal government to recover over 52 villages currently under illegal and forceful occupation in Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bakkos, Bassa, and Mangy Local Government Areas and the displaced owners be resettled on their ancestral land.
It said failure to effect the recovery was akin to allowing a criminal to retain the proceeds of crime.
The green chamber further demanded that the masterminds and perpetrators of the attacks and massacres be arrested and prosecuted, adding that there should be a Coroner’s inquest and forensic examination of the weapons and ammunition used to determine the cause of deaths, calibre and source of the weapons used.
Among other things, the lawmakers urged President Muhammadu Buhari to go beyond verbal condemnation of the attacks and take decisive and practical steps to give effect to Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The House said the National Assembly should immediately revisit the constitution review exercise to empower states to establish state police for effective community policing and maintenance of law and order as the federal security architecture has failed to bring an end to violent attacks across the federation.
Gyang had in his debate expressed worry that the attacks had a pattern where once a community was attacked, it was cleansed by killing the native inhabitants, the houses burnt and destroyed and the vacated land taken over for occupation, noting that the cycle is a repeated and replicated in what had clearly manifested as a land grabbing agenda.
He noted that virtually all the theories known to peace building and dialogue had been experimented on Plateau without success to stop the attacks.
Hon. Idris Abdullahi Wase (APC, Plateau) in his contribution to the debate, opened a can of worms when he fingered some politicians whom he claimed are sponsors of the killings, adding that he had documentary evidence to support his position.
He said he would be willing to surrender the documents to support his claim even though he was aware of the attendant danger to his life.
The lawmaker urged those who fan the embers of violence to immediately stop the act.
However, given the weight of his submission, the lower chamber okayed a request by the Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos), for Wase to be accorded state protection.
On her part, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje-Elendu (PDP, Abia) said United Nations should see to killings in the country.
She also took exception to a recent television interview by Femi Adeshina stressing that he appeared to be insensitive to the killings in the country.
She said there appeared to be no direct integration policy by the government, adding that effort should be made to curtial proliferation of small arms as a way of addressing the continuing killings.
Hon. Baba Isa Kaita (APC, Katsina) blamed fake news for some of the killings, adding that some had been based on rumours and false video releases which had fuelled public apprehension about the situation in the country.
But his position was aptly challenged by Hon. Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) who said the killings he had personally witnessed in Benue as well as herdsmen wielding AK47 assault weapons could not be said to be the handiwork of fake news.
He said: “It’s not fake news or social media hype that 200 people in Plateau were killed as well as killings in other parts of the country. It’s no fake news that herdsmen brandish AK-47 assault rifles.”
Hon. Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano) said the issue should be debated objectively, adding that “We must criminalise any tribe in our debate. Being a Fulani man should not be seen as a crime.”
He had stepped in to correct the impression that Fulani herdsmen were responsible for the killings.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara said history will be hash to the present administration if it fails to stop mass killings of innocent Nigerians.
Speaking at the resumption of plenary yesterday, he said whatever achievement being recorded by the government will not be remembered if the orgy violence and mass killings of innocent Nigerians continue unabated.
According to him, “History will have a harsh verdict for us as a government if we fail to live up to this responsibility and it won’t matter if we succeed in other areas. Unfortunately, the stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system.
“The stark reality now is that our citizens are fast losing confidence in our security system. This must not be the case. Before we ebb to the realm of anarchy, we must rise up as true representatives of the Nigerian people to salvage the situation and defend our hard-won democracy.”
The Speaker argued that the unresolved issue of rampant killing of defenceless people, including innocent and vulnerable children and women, in various parts of the country, calls for a sober reflection adding that more concerted efforts by the National Assembly to exploit all our constitutional powers and privileges to ensure the protection of lives and property in the entire country by the security agencies.
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