ABUJA — THE Senate and the House of Representatives have invited the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police to appear before them and brief them on the security situation in the troubled states before commencing debates on President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for extension of emergency rule.
This is just as Senators from the North, operating under the umbrella of Northern Senators Forum, NSF, after their closed-door meeting yesterday, which lasted about three hours, vowed to frustrate moves for the extension of emergency rule in the three North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
In their resolve to stop the extension of emergency rule, the northern Senators stated that they would mobilise in their numbers to have the constitutional requirement of two third to vote against the President’s decision to extend the emergency rule.
The Senators maintained that the extension of the emergency rule was not the best way to combat the insurgency that had paralysed social and economic activities in the affected areas even though they welcomed the intervention of friendly nations in the fight against terrorism.
NSF sets up c’ttee
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Chairman of NSF, Senator Umaru Dahiru, said the group had set up a committee to meet with the government of the affected states on the way forward.
Senator Dahiru, who represents Sokoto South Senatorial district in the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said: “Our meeting this (yesterday) afternoon discussed basically the issue of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. Everybody in attendance made contributions and a lot was said.
“The majority position is that we are not going with the state of emergency. That is our categorical position because we are not convinced that it is only the issue of emergency rule that could make the security personnel to achieve success in the area.
“We believe a lot of things ought to be addressed to conquer the issue of insurgency.
“We are going to engage the three governors in the affected states. We want to know what went wrong to be able to come up with better ways to tackle the crisis.
“The constitution requires two third majority in terms of voting. Of course we are going to vote on the issue. If we can outnumber them during the voting, fine.”
He commended the efforts of the military against the insurgents and pledged the support of his group on whatever would be needed to ensure their success.
Senator Dahiru expressed support for the decision of friendly foreign powers to assist the country to rescue the schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram sect, but noted that such help must be on the terms of the Nigerian government.
Service chiefs, IG for debriefing
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, invited the service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to appear before it today for a briefing on the security situation in the three states where state of emergency was imposed, before commencing debates on the President’s extension request.
Also to appear before the Senate are the National Security Adviser, Minister of Defence and the Minister of Police Affairs.
While postponing debate on the motion, the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba, who was to move the motion for the extension of the emergency rule urged members to allow the item be stepped down until another legislative session.
Gazette before debate
Senator Ndoma Egba stated that the aspect of the constitution dealing with emergency rule had not been gazetted and that the Senate was yet to review the success or otherwise of the emergency rule which had been in place since May last year.
He said: “The proclamation by the requirements of the constitution is supposed to be gazetted. We must circulate the gazette before we can debate it. Secondly, it has been the tradition of this Senate that before debates, we appraise and access the performance of the state of emergency.
“So I will move that this distinguished Senate do invite the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Inspector-General of Police and the Director General of the Department of State Services, DSS, to brief this Senate at 10a.m. today in a close session to enable us to commence debate on the President request.”
Senator James Manager seconded the motion and added that the National Security Adviser, Minister of Defence and Minister of Police Affairs be also invited.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, described the motion as very serious, adding “I, therefore, appeal that in accordance with the motion moved by the Senate Leader, we should step it down till another legislative day.”
Reps defer voting until…
The House of Representatives also deferred voting on the extension till today to enable all the service chiefs brief them on the security challenges in the troubled states.
The Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, who presided, made the announcement at the plenary after contributions by some members, said the service chiefs would brief the House before the commencement of voting today.
Leading the debate, the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande Adeola (PDP Oyo), said the House on November 20, 2013, considered and approved the extension of emergency in the three states.
She said according to the provisions of Section 305 (6) (c) of the Constitution, as amended, would elapse after a period of six months from the date of approval, except the period is extended by the National Assembly.
The Section states: “Provided that the National Assembly may, before the expiration of the period of six months aforesaid, extend the period for the proclamation of the state of emergency to remain in force from time to time for a further period of six months by resolution in the like manner.”
More than 20 lawmakers spoke in support of the extension, withe six against.
Leader of the Borno caucus in the House, Mohammed Monguno (APC), who was first to contribute, said the Borno caucus was in support of the extension.
Kaka Gujbawu (PDP, Borno), said the emergency rule should be extended so insecurity could be tackled.
Titsi Ganama (PDP, Adamawa), Ali Yakubu (PDP, Yobe) and Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) are some of the lawmakers who spoke in support of the extension.
No to extension
Goni Bukar Haruna (APC, Yobe), who spoke on behalf of two other lawmakers from the state, said: “On behalf of the people and government of Yobe State, I stand to oppose the extension of the state of emergency.
It has not helped us in any way. Rather, it only succeeded in aggravating the insurgency. Since they declared it one year ago, many people have been killed in the states more than when there was no emergency.”
Hassan El Badawy (APC, Yobe) and Emmanuel Jime (APC, Benue), opposed the extension, with the latter adding that Jonathan should “invoke his constitutional powers” to make the Terrorism Prevention Act come to full force.
Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said emergency rule affects the rights of the people in the affected states and advised Jonathan to invoke his constitutional powers, while Andrew Uchendu (APC, Rivers), suggested a meeting of the leadership of the National Assembly with the President to fashion out a workable way of checking terrorism.
Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) and Mr. Yinka Farounbi, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch, backed the extension.
While Sagay pointed out that no power exists in the Constitution for removal of governors because of the declaration of state of emergency, Farounbi called for a collaborative effort in addressing the security challenges in the states.