Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday grilled heads of security agencies over the spate of killings and insecurity across the country. The meeting, which lasted four hours, was held behind closed doors.
The lawmakers asked the security agencies to forward their requests for special funding within two weeks for approval. The funding, the Senate said, was different from the annual budget of the agencies.
In attendance at the meeting were the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin. Heads of other military and paramilitary agencies sent their representatives.
The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was represented by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Operations), Habila Joshak.
Joshak had represented the IG twice out of the three times he failed to appear before the Senate. The subordinate was, however, turned back by the lawmakers.
The Senate had summoned the service chiefs and heads of security agencies in the country, including the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigeria Customs Service, to address the lawmakers over the rising spate of killings in the country.
After the meeting on Wednesday, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, described it as “a useful deliberation.” He said the meeting resolved that the security agencies would get special funding, which the legislature was ready to approve.
Saraki said, “The Senate, in a closed committee of the whole, received briefs from the Chief of Defence Staff, the Director General of the Department of State Services; representatives of the Comptroller-General Immigration Service, Inspector General of Police, and the Comptroller- General of Customs on the proliferation of dangerous arms, spate of killings and kidnappings by hoodlums across the country.
“Thereafter, they answered questions from the senators bordering on security, insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping and other talks on national security matters.
“On the whole, we decided that on our part, certain outstanding bills or protocols that needed to be given a fast track, should be addressed immediately, to see that they can be passed as soon as possible in order to strengthen the security architecture.
“Secondly, of course, we all observed the funding issue and also agreed that there must be a special funding. So, we gave them two weeks to present their own budget on this area of special funding that we think will go a long way in improving the security situation in the country.”
Saraki said the lawmakers and the security chiefs were all committed to ensuring that killings were brought to an end in the country.
He added, “We all agreed to continue to work together, cooperate and work very closely in order to address this issue. And we are confident that changes will be seen in this area.
“We have our role to play and they are committed to play their own role, and we hope that over the next couple of weeks, we will begin to take action on some of these things that we are committed to.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, who briefed journalists after the session, said the CDS led what he called a delegation of security agencies to the Senate.
Answering questions from journalists, especially on the non-appearance of the IG who had failed to appear before the Senate three times earlier, Sabi-Abdullahi said, “What we have said about the IG has been said; that is in the past.”
Sabi-Abdullahi also noted that the special funding was part of the $1bn security fund approved by the National Executive Council, out of which President Muhammadu Buhari had approved withdrawal of $496m from the Excess Crude Account to purchase military aircraft from the United States.