Apo Killings: Mark Assures Witnesses Of Protection

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Witnesses who come forward to testify in the Apo killings of Sept. 22, would be `adequately’ protected, President of the Senate, David Mark, said on Wednesday.

Senator Mark gave the assurance at the beginning of investigations into the cause of the killings, by the joint Senate Committees on National Security, Intelligence and Judiciary.

Nine occupants of an uncompleted building behind Apo Legislators quarters were killed in September when security operatives invaded the building.

The State Security Service (SSS), which coordinated a joint operation involving other security agencies, said there was information suggesting that the building was being inhabited by members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram.

Following a motion on the incident sponsored by Sen. Sahabi Ya’u (PDP-Zamfara), the Senate mandated the joint committee to investigate the cause of the killings.

In his speech while declaring the hearing open, Mark pleaded with Nigerians, who had facts about the incident to `freely come forward’ with such information.

“This is not the time for blame game. It is time to find facts. We must hear from all sides of the divide so that we can establish the truth and proffer solutions to the crisis,” he said.

“I want to plead with all witnesses to come forward with facts; I want to assure them that the Senate will give them adequate guarantee,’’ he said.

The Senate President gave the assurance that the findings would not be swept under the carpet, saying that members of the committee were open minded.

“The Senate and indeed the National Assembly will ensure that facts are not shrouded in secrecy and we shall encourage all witnesses to be frank,” he added.

He said that the current security situation in the country had become worrisome and intolerable ‘since no one knows who the terrorists are’.

“This is absurd and totally alien to us. We can no longer understand ourselves; we need to tackle this menace headlong. The insurgents now have international connections. That is why everybody must work hard to tackle the menace before we are doomed,” Mark said.

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the joint committee, Sen. Mohammed Magoro (PDP-Kebbi), promised that the committee would be honest, just and fair in carrying out its assignment.

He said that all sides would be given fair hearing without bias, fear or favour.

We cannot manufacture any information. We shall ask questions from all those involved. Security agencies and stakeholders will appear before us and after, we shall visit the site,” he said.

The hearing, which later went into a closed session, was attended by the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika and the Director of State Security Service, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong.

Others are the representatives of the Inspector-General of Police; Commandant General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr. Ade Abulorin, and Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Mr. Bem Angwe.