In the wake of the on-going crisis between the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Nigerian Army, the National Assembly is set to wade into the matter.
According to a statement made available to the media, Senate President Bukola Saraki has said the crisis in the South-East region of Nigeria will be investigated while calling for calm and restraint by all Nigerians to all jointly find the right solution to the problem rather than worsening the crisis.
“Our brothers and sisters in the South-east, in particular, should continue to maintain peace and tranquility and go about their lawful business. This crisis will not benefit anybody but would only expose innocent people to unwarranted danger.
“At this point, Nigerians outside the South-east who have worked to ensure that the crisis does not spread to other parts of the country deserve our commendation.
“I, therefore, call for continued efforts to sustain peace, unity, and stability in all our communities so as to ensure that all residents, no matter their religion, tribe, and creed remain protected and safe under the law.” He said.
Saraki also has a word for the media warning them from circulating information that has the potential for aggravating the crisis, he also advised that all Nigerians must protect and strengthen the nation, rather than contributing to her collapse and disintegration.
“I also wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Governors of the South-east states and the categorization of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow due process.
“Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have an effect.
“I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool.
“We must commend the military for their efforts in restoring peace to different parts of the country and sustaining the unity of the country. However, in the face of provocation, the military should allow themselves to be guided by their training which emphasizes respect for human rights, even in war. Also, giving the nature of this particular situation, the military has every reason to be hesitant in the use of force.” He said.
Saraki advised against the over-stretch of the military. “We need to protect our military against dissipation of their fighting strength” and that there is a need to strengthen the police and equip them with the capacity to deal with the civil crisis.
According to him, the National Assembly is already reviewing the Police Act and also looking at the possibility of enabling other para-military agencies to help in curbing civil unrest and maintenance of law and order.
“I want to also make it clear that the National Assembly intends to embark on a fact-finding investigation aimed at determining what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the South-east.
“We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover-up. We intend to lay the facts bare.
“On a long-term, we want to remind Nigerians that the reason for embarking on constitution review by the National Assembly was to enable us to look into issues that are agitating the minds of Nigerians and creating tension among us.
The Senate President appealed to all to direct their grievances to the right channels and urged political, religious and traditional to continue to engage with their people on the need to maintain peace.