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Published On: Wed, Nov 26th, 2014

Emergency extension: Senate, Service chiefs keep mum

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Nigerian-Senate-1By Ikechukwu Okaforadi & Mustapha Isah Kwaru, Maiduguri

  • As female bombers kill 30 in Maiduguri

The Senate has for the third day running failed to approve or reject the request by President Goodluck Jonathan for another six months’ extension of the state of emergency declared in the three North-East states of Borno, Adamawa and Taraba.

This is even as the Service Chiefs demanded that the emergency rule in the North – East be extended, to enable them work more effectively, explaining that the insurgency war is still lingering because of “problems of troop level and weaponry challenges.”

After about seven hours closed-door meeting with the service chiefs, the Senate came out with still no concrete resolution on what the fate of the hanging presidential request for emergency extension would be.

Those who attended the close-door meeting were the Chief of Army Staff, Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Air Staff, Adesola Amosun; Director of Department for State Security (DSS), Itah Ekpeyong, while the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, the Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jibrin, and the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, were absent without any representative.

Speaking shortly after the meeting, Senate President David Mark, said the “Senate, in a closed session, discussed extensively with the Service Chiefs, we have noted their challenges and success, it was robust discussion. The Senate spokesman will tell Nigerians what we have discussed.”

Meanwhile, he said the Senate will today consider the security invasion of the National Assembly last week Thursday, adding that the matter would be considered at plenary other than closed door.

Briefing journalists after the plenary, the Senate spokesman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the emergency rule extension was not the issue on the table during their discussion, adding that they had summoned the Service Chiefs in order to know their successes and challenges.

He said from their interactions with them, the Senate has confidence on their capacity to defeat the insurgency, adding that this would make the Senate to give them every necessary support they need to win the war.

According to him: “We also looked into the budgetary provision for them; and what has been done so far in containing the insurgency and I can tell you the Senate was very, very impressed by the response from the military and like I said, the military has shown itself to be capable of dealing with the insurgency.

“The fact that they are capable of dealing with the insurgency means that the Senate will do all it needs to within its power to support the military, so that we can bring this insurgency to a quick resolution.

Asked whether the Senate has approved or rejected the emergency rule extension, Abaribe said: “The question of state of emergency extension was not what was on the table today and we are going to also wait until it is brought to the floor of the Senate before we discuss it.

“What the Senate did today was to separate the two questions. Of course, the military continues to insist they need the state of emergency to be able to conduct operations in a manner that will bring it to a quick resolution. When the Senate now takes the issue of the state of emergency extension, of course, you’ll be there; it will be discussed in open plenary.”

Meanwhile, the relative peace being enjoyed by residents of Maiduguri, Borno state in recent times was shattered yesterday morning, when two female suicide bombers blew themselves up, causing a massive explosion, killing not less than thirty persons.

Yesterday’s blast is the first to be recorded in Maiduguri since the last one that killed 56 people in the same market area on July 2, 2014. It occurred when a car, laden with explosives, blew up amidst traders coming out for their daily businesses.

This latest attack came barely 24 hours after Boko Haram insurgents captured Damasak town, headquarters of Mobbar Local Government Area of the state, killing several civilians.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is thought that it may have been carried out by the dreaded Boko Haram sect.

However, there were conflicting reports over the incident, as the first blast has reportedly emanated from a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

The explosion, which sound was heard across the Maiduguri metropolis, occurred at about 11:11am. Witnesses said the bomb was concealed in a pick-up tricycle, popularly known as Jega.

A witness, Kolo Lawan, told our correspondent at the scene: “There was double tragedy, when a female suicide bomber killed many sympathizers at the scene of an earlier explosion that killed some people near a busy market. The second explosion was more devastating because it killed so many people who gathered at the scene of the first explosion.”

The  suicide attacks, which were the first to be carried out by female Boko Haram members in the city, occurred behind a crowded Maiduguri Monday market, which is the major commercial centre of the city, killing scores and injuring several others, witnesses and security sources said.

The two teenage girls, according to witnesses, simply walked into the One-Way area of Maiduguri’s main market, at about 11:20am and one of them blew herself up, killing about three women.

Witnesses told newsmen that when unsuspecting sympathisers gathered to watch the scene, the second girl, who was also heavily wired with explosives screamed and then the device hidden under her garment blew up, killing about 30 persons.

The Borno state Coordinator of Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), Abba Aji Kalli, told our reporters on phone that: “I am right here at the scene and I have before me eleven corpses that have not been evaluated; many have been taken away by relatives, while others are taken to the State Specialist Hospital. We have many people that are seriously injured after the two blasts,” said Kalli.

Security operatives, comprising soldiers and police officers cordoned-off the area, while rescue workers evacuated corpses and the wounded to the hospitals.

Some newsmen, who rushed to the scene, were turned back by security forces, who cordoned the area.

A medical practitioner at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), where the corpses were deposited at about noon, equally revealed that 42 persons were brought to the hospital with different kinds of injuries.

The Public Relations Officer of the Borno Police Command, Gideon Jubrin has also confirmed the explosion at the market, but could not give the number of casualties.

Jubrin, speaking to journalists on phone yesterday afternoon, said: “I can confirm to you that there was explosion at the Maiduguri Monday Market today (yesterday), but I cannot give you details as our men and the military are on ground to bring back order”.

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