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Reprisal looms as militants kill 4 soldiers in Bayelsa

* Benue Killings: Saraki orders Senate panel to suspend recess, proffers solutions

Reprisal looms in Bayelsa State as militants allegedly killed four of the soldiers in the operation to fish out the killers of those who beheaded a security official at Toru- Ndoru Community in Ekeremor Local Government Area.

The Daily Times gathered on Wednesday that the four soldiers and some militants were killed in a bloody clash between militants and soldiers engaged in the operation.

The military had engaged in the operation to dislodge and arrest a gang of notorious militants terrorizing the area.

The Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe, had launched a manhunt in the area with a mandate to arrest the militants behind the beheading of the security official.

In their separate reactions, the Ijaw Youths Council and Bayelsa State government had accused the troops of violence and razing houses of innocent residents in the area.

Four of the soldiers who were engaged in the operation were said to have been killed in a shootout with the militants.

It was gathered that the Commander of JTF, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi, has deployed more troops as reinforcement in the community.

The troops were said to have intensified the manhunt to locate the hideout of the militant leaders in the creeks.

A security source who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed the killing of the four soldiers by the militants. He vowed that the murderers of their colleagues must be apprehended.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has directed members of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Security to immediately resume sitting and work through the weekend to specifically to get an interim report ready for the consideration of members by next week.

The Senate is expected to resume for legislative business next Tuesday after an end of the year break, indicating that it was already poised to address the issue of herdsmen, farmers clashes in Benue and other states of the federation.

The Senate President gave the order to the Committee in response to escalation of bloodletting in Benue State, just as he re-emphasized his belief that the killings are clear indications that the security architecture in the country has inherent faults and needs to be refurbished.

A statement by his spokesman, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, also quoted Saraki as saying that, “I believe the sad situation in Benue State shows some fundamental faults in our security system. There is clear failure of intelligence gathering, analysis and response time. Our security agencies must be totally overhauled in terms of equipment, specialization, funding, training and staffing.

“This is the reason why in November, the Senate set up a special committee led by Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, to work with security agencies and review the entire system with a view to identifying what is required in terms of laws, process, procedure, funding and other necessities for us to have a solid security system which can be pro-active in identifying potential threats, responding to them on time and preventing any breach.

“We are quite aware of the fact that security is the first and prime responsibility of any government. That is why since early last week I have directed the Lawan committee to take into consideration the sad developments in Benue and Rivers in their deliberations. Now, we cannot wait for the time they planned to conclude their recommendations. They must fast track their schedule.

“They must sit through the weekend and get an interim report ready for the Senate when we resume plenary on Tuesday. We must immediately support the executive in solving this problem. We cannot afford shedding of blood and we are already moving into the election year with the potential for the aggravation or escalation of these problems. We must decisively resolve the problem of needless blood letting”.

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