THE Presidency and Senate were yesterday locked in exchanges over the continued stay in office of service chiefs. This is not the first time the Upper Chamber is calling for the resignation or sack of the service chiefs for their failure to checkmate the high level insecurity in the country. While the Senate asked the service chiefs to step down now, following their inability to stop the spate of killings by terrorists, bandits and kidnappers in the country, especially in the north, the Presidency said it was the prerogative of President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs. Bandits have in just one week, killed close to a hundred persons in Kaduna State alone, while the President’s home state of Katsina has also witnessed its own round of killings within the same period.
The Senate argued that the reason for the service chiefs to step down was to allow fresh hands with ideas to tackle the myriad of security challenges confronting the country at the moment. According to the Senate, the stepping aside of the service chiefs or their sacking by President Muhammadu Buhari will enable it go into the remote and immediate causes of the incessant killing of soldiers protecting the lives and property of the people. Its position came against the backdrop of recent desertion of the Army by now fewer than 200 soldiers. Consequently, it mandated its Joint Committee on Army, Defence; Navy; National Security and Intelligence; the Police, and Interior to receive briefings from the various security agencies and report back. The Senate also urged President Buhari to urgently provide modern equipment to enhance the operational capabilities of the armed forces, just as it observed a minute silence in honour of the fallen heroes. Resolutions of the Senate was sequel to a motion by former Senate Leader, and Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, APC, Borno South, who came under Order 42(1) and 52 of the Senate Standing Orders as amended. The motion also drew attention to an unprecedented low morale in the military, with over 200 soldiers desserting the Army recently. The demand for the resignation of the service chiefs was put forward in a proposed amendment to the prayers of the Senate moved by Senator Francis Fadahunsi, PDP Osun East, and seconded by Senator Betty Apiafi, PDP Rivers West. Ndume in the motion, drew the attention to the rising number of casualties among the Nigerian Army and other security sgencies. Ndume in his presentation, lamented the high level of casualties among the rank and file of the military and other security agencies, with over 21 soldiers ambushed and killed in Damboa in Borno State and Katsina. In his remarks, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who condoled the families of slain soldiers, charged the Senate Joint Committees to investigate alleged desertion of the Army by soldiers at the war front. He said: “The spirit of this motion is that our armed forces are trying very hard, but just like the President said, their good is not good enough. “We need to continue to encourage and provide for them. They lay their lives on behalf of us, and, of course, it is very sad that some of them are alleged to have deserted the war front. “We need to get to the bottom of this. Our joint committee should be able to find out the facts about this allegation of over 200 soldiers deserting the war front.” Replying the Senate, the Presidency said the decision to appoint or sack service chiefs was President Muhammadu Buhari’s prerogative. It also said President Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, would do what was in the best interest of the country at all times. A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina said: “The Presidency notes the resolution, and reiterates that appointment or sack of service chiefs is a Presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu 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.” Meanwhile, the Presidency yesterday said the security situation in Southern Kaduna was complicated because of the penchant for revenge among different interest groups. It said: “The Presidency wishes to state that the problem of insecurity in Southern Kaduna State is more complicated than many people are willing to admit. “We note that revenge and counter-revenge only creates a circle of violence, thereby making everyone else unsafe, especially innocent people.” “From available records, Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on the ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace.”