Senate orders investigation into Baga killings

Senate President David Mark on Tuesday directed the Senate Committee on Defence, Police, National Security and Intelligence to investigate the mayhem in Baga, Borno state  during a military face-off with Boko Haram.

Mark gave the directive following a point of order raised by Sen. Maina Lawan (ANPP-Borno) on the mayhem in Baga.

More than 180 persons had been reportedly killed and hundreds of houses destroyed in Baga town during an assault between the military and insurgents in the area.

The senate president said that the Senate would not apportion blame yet on who was responsible for the death of several civilians during the assault.

“The number of people who are being named to have been killed regardless of who did it is totally unacceptable, that number is just too much.

“Just as Sen. Magoro and Salihu will say fighting in built up area is a very difficult operation.

“That notwithstanding, there must be standard rules of engagement and those rules of engagement will not include mass killings or extra judicial killing of any form.

“But I do not want any debate on it because there is already a committee that has been set up by the executive to probe it.

“But we in the legislature will set up a committee to investigate the facts and whether the reports we got are correct or not.

Mark appealed to those who would appear before the committee to have the courage to come up and testify.

“The problem is not setting up a committee, it is whether people will come and give evidence before the committee but I urge Nigerians who know the facts to appear before this committee,’’ he said.

Mark gave the joint committee two weeks to report back to the Senate and later invited the legislators to observe a minute silence in honour of the victims of the attack.

Earlier, Sen. Lawan described the level of destruction in his senatorial zone as “outrageous’’ and warned of ongoing humanitarian crisis in the area.

He demanded full-scale investigation into the incident in Baga community and called on concerned agencies of government and individuals to come to the aid of the surviving citizens.

“My zone the Borno North Senatorial district is today a no-go area for normal operations of government, be it business or social.

“In particular, I wish to draw attention to several national dailies in the last three or four days and very wide an extensive coverage of all the international electronic media.

“These news items are largely true and still coming closer home, my hometown of Baga is today in total ruins with 180 to 200 human lives lost and numerous others unaccounted for.

“More than 2,000 homes destroyed, 62 cars and 284 motor cycles and tonnes of food stuff destroyed.’’ he said.

Lawan continued: “At this stage I would not want to enmesh in the blame game on whether it is the multinational joint task force or the JTF or the insurgents that carried out the atrocities.

“But it appears the killings bear the hallmark of Odi (killings), however whoever did it, that level of atrocity is outrageous, unacceptable and condemnable in any civilised society even in societies at war,’’ he said.

Lawan also thanked President Goodluck Jonathan for setting-up the amnesty committee toward resolving the insurgency in the northern part of the country.

He however advised that “the ultimate solution to this urgency is a genuine dialogue that must necessarily address the immediate and remote underlining causes of the insurgency.

“Two years ago, I said on the floor of this Senate that boots and bullets cannot solve the problem, let’s put our thinking caps on and take advantage of this amnesty initiative and face the problem headlong,’’ he said. (NAN)

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