Although closed door sessions are normal legislative hideaways where critical national issues are discussed by legislators, the harried session of last Tuesday spoke volumes about the threat posed by the nefarious activities of the sect to national security.
The Senate had just returned from a six-week break to mark the Christmas holidays. But for most of the Senators, it was a grim holiday, inundated with grief and pain, no thanks to the spree of bombings within the Christmas period.
There were bombings in Yobe, Borno and Niger states with fatal consequences in which the sect took self proclaimed glories. The most fatal of the bombings was that of Madalla, Niger state where close to fifty worshippers at the St. Theresa Catholic Church were massacred.
Even as the bombs were going off in an alarming frequency across the country, with the Federal Government in a quandary, Boko Haram again expanded its terrorism with an ultimatum to Nigerians to relocate to their ethnic and religious enclaves.
Hapless Nigerians of southern origin living in the shadows of fears were given a three day ultimatum on the 2nd of January by the sect to leave the north.
The ultimatum was soon followed by an alleged corresponding ultimatum by Egbesu boys from the Ijaw speaking areas of the South asking northerners in the south to immediately relocate to the north.
As they returned from the yuletide break there was the fear among many Senators that the killings and threats culminating in flurries of departures and relocations by Nigerians on ethnic and religious divides is reminiscent of events of 1966 which eventually led to the civil war in the succeeding year.
Senators were not amused by the development as they were gripped with fear that the growing insecurity being orchestrated by Boko Haram could break the fragile cord that binds the nation together.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who was visibly concerned by the development brought a motion to the Senate raising alarm on the looming disaster that may befall the nation on account of the killings.
Ekweremadu sought the attention of the Senate on the near collapse of security in the country, praying the upper chamber to take drastic actions to save Nigeria from the looming disaster.
He said, “I and 73 other Senators are worried about the state of insecurity in our country. We are worried about the movement of people from one area to another especially on the strength of threat from Boko Haram.
We are also worried about killings of people in places of worships. These things are like a bonfire, if not quenched, it can consume all of us.”
The motion read in part, “The Senate notes with serious concern that the country has been experiencing serious crisis and disturbances which presently constitute grave threats to peace, order, good governance, security and safety to the nation and her citizenry;
Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba warning that no nation survives two civil wars said the scar of Nigeria civil war is yet to heal 42 years after.
“As a boy of ten years in 1966, I experienced the atrocities of civil war. Those who are pushing this country to the precipice, those criminals have no experience of war because if they had, they won’t be doing what they are doing. No nation can survive two civil wars; I want to appeal to the criminals to stop the killings.” He pleaded.
For Senate Minority leader, George Akume, who narrated his bitter experience in the civil war, Nigeria is a country under siege due to the reckless and wanton killings and destruction of properties by Boko Haram.
According to Akume, “Today we are under siege. In one day, I lost an uncle, a brother and two cousins in the civil war. Do we want to turn Nigeria into Sudan? The war lords will be too many I want our unity to be guaranteed.”
Senate President, David Mark shared the same fears with his colleagues. Mark was worried that Nigeria may be heading into anarchy as a result of the violent activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
In his New Year message to Senators, he specifically mentioned that the panic movement of Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines from one region to the other arising from the activities of Boko Haram could throw the country into anarchy.
According to him, “We have reconvened at a trying period in our nation’s history. We are confronted by security challenges in different parts of the country, which are testing our collective resolve to live together as a united indivisible nation.
“The Christmas Day bomb attack at Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla and other attacks in different parts of the country especially the North East which have claimed many innocent lives, represent the most daring and costly attack by terrorists on fellow Nigerians.
“The attacks have instilled fear in the minds of ordinary Nigerians and threaten to impede the exercise of nation building. Once again, our tested cultural and religious values, which emphasize respect for life, are being eroded by these unscrupulous elements among us.
“The current security challenge has reinforced the need to aggressively pursue economic development and simultaneously implement the war on terrorism. In this regard, let me caution against reckless utterances by some Nigerians that endanger our national unity.
“Statements that encourage people to move from one region to another on the basis of faith and ethnicity are unpatriotic. It portends danger to our corporate existence and a clear invitation to anarchy.”
Whether the fear is real or imagined, the concerns raised by Ekweremadu are real when placed side by side with happenings around the country.
It therefore calls for a collective resolve on the part of Nigerians and security agencies to work assiduously to stop the disintegration of this country by tackling the dreaded Boko Haram.
By Inalegwu Shaibu, Vangyard