The Senate on Thursday in Abuja asked President Goodluck Jonathan to deploy more security personnel to Zamfara and other states with security challenges.
The Senate, however, rejected an appeal for the president to prevail on the Zamfara governor to rescind his decision to arm vigilance groups in the state with rifles.
The resolutions followed a motion sponsored by Sen. Basheer Mohammed (PDP-Kano) on the plan by Zamfara Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, to arm vigilance groups.
Mohammed said it could be dangerous to arm any group that was neither trained nor authorised by the constitution.
He said it was part of the security challenges currently being experienced in many parts of the country.
Mohammed said that the Federal Government was pursuing the policy of mopping up light and heavy weapons from the public in compliance with the ECOWAS Convention on Arms Proliferation.
According to him, the decision of the governor to arm the vigilance groups in Zamfara is capable of jeopardising the fragile security situation in the state.
He said it would be better for Zamfara and other states with security challenges to address their security problems by requesting for additional security personnel rather than set up armed groups.
Sen. Kabiru Marafa (PDP-Zamfara) called the attention of the Senate to a newspaper publication that the Zamfara governor had purchased arms which were in the custody of the state government.
Marafa said the publication was false since he had spoken to the governor who confirmed that he had not purchased arms for anyone in the state.
Sen. Shaaba Lafiagi (PDP-Niger), said that, as a member of the Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence, he was aware that the Zamfara governor had already acquired weapons.
“The question is: do you seek the permission of the Inspector-General of Police before acquiring arms or do you acquire the arms, then get permission later?’’ he said.
On his part, Sen. Gbenga Kaka (ACN-Ogun) said that it was on record that there were fewer than 400, 000 policemen in the Nigeria Police Force.
He said: “if the number is just 400, 000 with a population of 160 million Nigerians, it is certain that we are under policed and it must be addressed.
“We have millions of graduates unemployed and yet there are opportunities to get them engaged but we are not taking these opportunities.
“If the president were to send more troops to Zamfara, where will he get them from?’’
Sen. Magnus Abe (PDP-Rivers) said there was no federation in the world where only one entity provided security for its people except Nigeria.
He said the arrangement in Nigeria was not working and as such the issue of security had remained a recurring decimal.
“Nigerians are not secured and they are not protected and in their desperation to handle this problem, different people come out with different solutions which are creating further problems,’’ he said.
He said it would be wrong and unjust for the Senate to take actions on the Zamfara governor based on a newspaper report.
He suggested that the matter be referred to the relevant committee to investigate and report back to the Senate.
Sen. Mohammed Ali-Ndume (PDP-Borno) in opposing the motion said that the Zamfara governor was only taking extra steps to protect his people which was the essence of governance.
“We should not condemn the act of the governor; if there are certain areas he has derailed, then we should call his attention to it.
“We need to understand that he is the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the state and if anything goes wrong, he would be the one to answer the question,’’ Ndume said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ECOWAS member states consider the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to constitute a major threat to peace and stability.
Meanwhile, a Bill for an Act to Facilitate the Use of Information in Electronic Form for Conducting Transactions in Nigeria passed second reading at the Senate on Thursday.
The Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Bassey Otu (PDP-Cross River), said that the proposed law would facilitate the use of information in electronic form for conducting business in Nigeria.
Otu also said it would promote business and community confidence between individuals, the public and the government.
“The increasing dependence of economic activities on information coupled with globalisation of capital flow, trade, manufacturing and other activities have resulted in strong demand for less costly communication and information services,’’ he said.