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Senators once again beg Buhari to sack service chiefs over Boko Haram failure

Senators unanimously passed a new resolution for Buhari to fire the service chiefs.

Lawmakers have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari numerous times to appoint new service chiefs but the president remains unmoved [Bernard Menigault/Alamy]

At least 43 farmers were killed by terrorists during a devastating attack in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State on Saturday, November 28, 2020.

The massacre has led to widespread condemnation of the Buhari-led government's efforts towards eradicating the terrorist group.

Federal lawmakers in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have in the past urged the president to sack the service chiefs.

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Senators during plenary on Tuesday, December 1, expressed frustrations with Buhari's failure to heed to their past resolutions regarding the position of the service chiefs whom they scored low on performance.

Former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima, raised a motion on Tuesday for Buhari to commence a transition process of phasing out the service chiefs.

Shettima said the latest massacre was unacceptable and that it was time that the service chiefs make way for more effective leadership of the military to win the war against terror.

Many senators supported the former governor's motion, with some of them also blaming Buhari for not being decisive enough in wiping out the terrorists as promised.

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"The President is the Commander-In-Chief. If there is failure in the military, it means the President is not doing enough," Senator George Sekibo said.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele referred to previous resolutions on the same issue, lamenting that the war was becoming too routine and should be ended as soon as possible.

He said the service chiefs must be sacked as it has become apparent that they cannot give what they don't have.

Senator Ali Ndume equally slammed the performance of the service chiefs, and noted that troops fighting terrorists are not properly-equipped.

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"Some of them have no bulletproof vests, or helmets. I have not seen a Nigerian soldier (in the northeast) holding a brand new AK-47," he said.

The lawmaker also noted that at least 67 farmers were actually killed on Saturday, and not 43 as earlier reported. He said residents are still scouting for and finding more corpses of those slaughtered by the terrorists.

Senator Adamu Aliero expressed dissatisfaction with the president's decision to send a delegation on a condolence visit to Borno, and not directly visit himself.

He noted that the service chiefs have outlived their usefulness and must make way for fresh blood in the Armed Forces' leadership.

In his contribution, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said Saturday's massacre should be a turning point for the war against insurgency and insecurity in Nigeria.

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"Enough of any excuses. People who have little or nothing to add should be shown the way out," he said.

Senators unanimously passed the resolution for President Buhari to fire the service chiefs to re-energise the war against terror.

Even though he has issued them several warnings in the past to perform better, Buhari has also indefinitely extended the tenure of all service chiefs beyond natural expiration of their service.

After a similar resolution was passed in July 2020, the presidency said the appointment or sack of service chiefs is a presidential prerogative only Buhari can exercise.

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"President Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times," the statement read.

Other resolutions passed by senators on Tuesday include restructuring of the security infrastructure, including more recruitments into the military and Police; and investigations into widespread allegations of corruption in security spending to foster transparency.

Lawmakers also resolved that Buhari should explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with neighbouring countries to strengthen the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram.

They also called on the Buhari government to initiate the urgent recruitment of at least 10,000 Civilian Joint Task Force members who are versatile with the local terrain to complement the efforts of the Armed Forces.

The lawmakers passed another resolution for Buhari to direct relevant agencies to compensate the families of the 67 that were killed on Saturday, and provide support to the bereaved families of victims of the insurgency.

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The senators also passed a resolution for the president to provide proper welfare for security personnel fighting in the frontlines, and give prime attention to the compensation and welfare of fallen soldiers.

They also called on the president to address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity as a long term solution.

Boko Haram has killed over 30,000 people and displaced millions in the restive north east region since its insurgency escalated in 2009.

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Overall, deaths from terrorism in Nigeria are now 83% lower than at their peak in 2014, according to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report published last week, but Boko Haram killings increased in 2019 over the previous year.

The Islamic sect was ranked as the second deadliest terrorist group globally in 2019 ahead of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Al-Shabaab, and only behind the Taliban.

Nigeria remains the third most-affected by terrorism across the world, a position it first assumed in 2015 after dropping from second place.

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