By Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu & Joseph Erunke
THE National Conference was on the edge of an uproar yesterday as delegates who reconvened sharply disagreed over the propriety of a probe into the more than N3 trillion expended on security in the period between 2010 and 2013.
The near uproar followed a motion by Mr Orok Duke from Cross River State asking the Conference to demand urgent remedy of what he called the precarious security situation in the country and a call for the release of the 276 school girls abducted by the Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram.
The motion also implored the Conference to pass a resolution in support of the voluntary involvement of certain multi-national military forces in the operation to rescue the school girls.
The mild drama started when a delegate representing the Civil Society Organisations, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, while contributing to a debate on the rescue of the abducted Chibok students, alleged that the government from 2010 to 2014, voted N3 trillion on security and expressed concern that nothing much has come out of it in the face of continued security challenges and ill- equipped nature of the country’s soldiers.
Citing Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution which vests the power of defending the territorial integrity of the nation in the Nigerian military, Falana urged the Conference to mandate President Goodluck Jonathan to set up a panel to investigate how the said N3 trillion was spent on security.
He was immediately opposed by Iyom Josephine Anenih, who insisted that the outpouring of emotions by men and women across the world was such that Nigerians should be grateful and publicly express such gratefulness.
Meanwhile, the Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi who stressed that there was need to know the exact figure of the missing girls, said: “If two weeks ago, we were told that only eight people had been rescued and now we are told that over 200 are still to be saved, I think it is only fair that we only know the new figure and that we should encourage those in the position to do so and continue with their efforts to rescue the girls.”
Also opposing Falana, a delegate on the platform of former Speakers, Chief Anayo Nnebe said: “Safety and order in Nigeria lies in the military of the country, it does not remove the fact that our military has not been able in the past months to contain the insurgency in this country. Therefore, there is serious and urgent need for us to commend the other countries of the world that have identified with us at this time of pressure and need.”
Speaking, Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, who noted that what was presently in Nigeria was guerilla warfare, stressed the need for Nigerians to commend the troops and the international community rather than play politics with the issue.
“There is an attitude we must change and that attitude is our penchant for discouraging people who are working for this country at all levels. We have many soldiers fighting in this matter and all we do at this stage is to behave as if they are not doing anything.
It is true that they can do better and they are not getting the equipment with which they can do better but let us encourage them, let us acknowledge that a lot of them have paid the supreme sacrifice in fighting this thing. We must not come here and behave as if nothing is being done,” he said.
In his contribution, another delegate representing Association of former Speakers, Hon. Ignatius Edet, noted that the Conference had no such powers to ask the president to set up a panel to investigate such money as it was not a legislative body.