Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
But for the various interventions of the 36 state governments, the security crisis currently bedeviling Nigeria would have worsened, governors have said.
The governors, rising from a meeting, which began late Wednesday in Abuja, and ended in the wee hours of yesterday, expressed concerns about the growing insecurity in the country.
Also, the Acting Inspector General of Police (IG), Usman Baba, has promised to reorganise the police to check those promoting separatist agenda.
However, Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, urged the federal government to enforce the ban on open grazing, one of the major factors for the pervasive farmer-herders clashes, and immediately implement the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in line with the recommendation of the National Economic Council.
Besides, Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, will today lead a committee set up by the governors to engage the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) whose members are on a strike to protest the non-implementation of the financial autonomy granted state judiciaries.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said the meeting reviewed the issues of security, economy, Executive Order 10 on financial autonomy for state judiciaries and legislatures and associated matters.
On security, he said the governors were worried following the attack on the custodial centre and the Imo State Police Command headquarters, all in Owerri, and the subsequent release of prisoners.
They also expressed concerns about violence and insecurity nationwide, including the killings of soldiers in Benue State.
He stated: “The forum has expressed its worry that it’s time for us to revisit comprehensively, the nature and depth of this security crisis, which would have gotten worse if states had not been taking the actions they’ve been taking individually and collectively.
“It is the steps taken at the state level that have managed to reduce the depth and the enormity of the security challenges.
“Nonetheless, it’s still a worrisome development for us and we feel we will need a special review of the entire gamut of the security issues that we’re dealing with and further engage the federal authorities both at the political level and federal authorities at the security level, in order to deal with this multifaceted challenges of security that we’re faced.”
On the delay in the implementation of the Executive Order 10, he said the forum had resolved some issues to take forward with the committee responsible for legislative and judicial autonomy, of which they have members that have been representing them.
“I have just told you that the committee responsible for engaging with the representatives of the legislature and the representatives of the judiciary will meet them tomorrow (today) to convey the position of the governors to them,” he added.
But Tambuwal warned that the quest for financial autonomy for the legislative and judicial arms in the states, which has the backing of the governors, must follow due constitutional process.
The governor who spoke with journalists yesterday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after leading members of the Technical Committee on the Implementation of the Autonomy of State Legislature and the Judiciary to a meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, stated that while the governors support the idea, they would want its implementation to conform to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (ss smended).
According to him, the governors will meet on Monday to consider the final report of the technical committee with a view to resolving the contentious issues.
He said: “We’re here with the chairman and leadership of the Speakers’ Conference. The Solicitor-General of the Federation and SSA to Mr. President on Niger Delta who has been a member of the Technical Committee on the Implementation of the Autonomy of State Legislature and the Judiciary, together with the Chief of Staff to Mr. President.
“We have just finished a meeting on how to put finishing touches and dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, on the final implementation of the financial autonomy for a state legislature and the judiciary. We have made reasonable progress and we have agreed, after receiving the final report of the technical committee, to meet on Monday because of the urgency of the matter, and finally, resolve whatever issues are there.”
Asked the position of the governors on the matter, Tambuwal said: “From the very beginning, during the Eighth Assembly, under the leadership of Bukola Saraki and Speaker Dogara, the governors’ forum under Abdulaziz Yari then, met with them and supported the financial autonomy for the state legislatures and the judiciaries. And that is why with that support, we were able to achieve the passage of this amendment by the National Assembly and the state legislatures across the country. So the governors are unequivocally in support of the autonomy of these institutions.”
On why President Muhammadu Buhari had to set up the implementation committee when the governors were not opposed to the financial autonomy for legislature and judiciary, Tambuwal said he was not in any position to query the wisdom of the president on the matter.
The governor stated that the implementation committee had already spoken with speakers of state assemblies and the judiciary as part of its engagement with them, adding that progress has been made on the matter.
He, therefore, urged the striking judicial workers to call off their industrial action.
Enforce Ban on Open Grazing, Ortom Tells FG
Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has urged the federal government to enforce the ban on open grazing and immediately implement the NLTP in line with the recommendation of the National Economic Council.
Ortom, in his speech yesterday as the guest speaker at the 2021 Press Week/Lecture organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Correspondents Chapel, FCT Council, Abuja, stated that all funds released by the federal government for the implementation of the RUGA policy should be recovered and rechannelled towards the NLTP implementation.
In his paper titled: “Insecurity in Nigeria: Restoring Peace, Unity and Progress”, Ortom decried the continuation of open grazing and support for grazing reserves, stock routes and cattle colony despite nationwide acknowledgement that the practice is unviable and that ranching is the global best practice for livestock production.
The governor urged the federal government to prevail on the police and other security agencies to enforce the prohibition of open grazing laws passed by states.
He also asked the federal government to abolish the open visa policy as well as direct security agencies to ensure full compliance with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transhumance.
Ortom, who lamented that Benue people have suffered genocidal and repeated acts of terrorism from armed Fulani herdsmen, urged the federal government to compensate families of persons killed and those whose property have been destroyed by armed Fulani herdsmen in various communities across the country.
The governor also urged the federal government to publicly condemn the atrocities perpetrated by armed herdsmen, arrest and prosecute the leaderships of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and other Fulani socio-cultural groups who have consistently admitted to killings and destruction of communities.
He said the leaders and sponsors of criminal gangs, militia groups and cultists must also be identified, arrested and prosecuted.
Ortom called for the proscription of all militant Fulani groups as was done in the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), given that the Global Terrorism Index ranks the Fulani militia as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world.
He also said other extremist groups should be proscribed.
In addition, he proposed that the federal government should license Nigerians to bear automatic weapons for self-defence.
IG to Reorganise Police to Tackle Promoters of Separatist Agenda
The Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, yesterday said the police were poised to roll back growing separatist agenda that triggered violence in the South-east and other parts of the country.
He said the police under his command were determined to address secession, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes.
Baba, at a meeting with Commissioners of Police and other strategic commanders of the force in Abuja, ordered the disbandment of the Inspector-General of Police (IG) Monitoring Units in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
The IG said the police high command would soon begin a comprehensive reorganisation to enable the force to deal with internal security threats.
According to him, it is the duty of the police to deal with the increasing threat to internal security.
He said the trend was compounded by “growing separatist agenda, which has assumed an armed dimension in which personnel and assets of the Nigeria Police Force, military and other security agencies are being constantly targeted in clearly well-coordinated, premeditated violent attacks in the South-east geo-political zone.
“As the lead agency in internal security, the tasks of rolling back this unacceptable security tide rest primarily with us.”
In line with the determination to reorganise the force for more efficiency and effectiveness, the police chief ordered the disbandment of IG police monitoring units.
“In furtherance to our force reorganisation plans as well as commitment to return to the basics in policing, I have directed the immediate reform of the IG Monitoring Unit.
“This involves the disbandment of the satellite offices of the unit in Lagos and Port Harcourt, the streamlining of personnel profile of the unit at Force Headquarters to not more than 50 operatives and the banning of the unit from undertaking criminal investigations, including taking over cases from state commands”, he said.
He said the unit would only operate within the original mandate which entailed investigation of complaints of professional infractions “that may be alleged against any serving officer as may be referred to them by my office.
“Similar repositioning initiatives are being worked out in relation to other ad hoc investigative units in the force.”