- As northern senators reject extension
- Majority of Reps oppose proposal
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi & Umar Mohammed Puma
Apparently worried by the continued extension of state of emergency imposed on three states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno, where the Boko Haram insurgency has festered, the Senate has summoned the military chiefs to appear before it and justify the proposal by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the emergency rule by another six months.
In the same vein, after about four hours closed door meeting yesterday in the National Assembly, the Northern Senators Forum resolved to reject the extension of the emergency rule any time it comes up for debate on the floor of the Senate, saying they will still consult the three Governors on the way forward.
Moreover, indications emerged yesterday that majority of members of the House of Representatives who spoke on the Presidential proposal kicked against it, on the grounds that the extension has not done anything different to resolve the continued killing of innocent civilians in the affected states, even though they accepted that the military should be allowed to stay behind.
Those to appear before the Senate tomorrow are: Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Air Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff.
Others are the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Gusau, National Security Advicer, Gambo Dasuki, Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and the Minister of Police Affairs.
They will to come today, to give the Senate a progress report in a closed door session by 10 AM, especially on the performance of the emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
President Jonathan had, on Tuesday April 13, written the Senate, requesting it to approve the extension of the state of emergency for another six months in the Boko Haram ravaged states in the North-East.
Accordingly, a motion entitled: “Extension of State of Emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States”, sponsored by the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, was scheduled on the Senate’s Order Paper for consideration, before the lawmakers unanimously agreed that the Security Chiefs should be invited to brief the Senate first.
To this end, Victor Ndoma Egba, who was to move the motion for the extension of the emergency rule, stood to urge fellow senators to allow the item to be stepped down till another legislative session.
He explained that the aspect of the constitution dealing with emergency rule had not been gazetted, noting also that the Senate was yet to review the success or otherwise of the emergency rule which had been in place since May last year.
Consequently, the Leader of the Senate pointed out that the gazette must be circulated to the senators before the motion could be debated.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, described the motion as a very serious business which bothers on the security of the country.
“We need to be well informed of the situation on ground and the efficiency or the effectiveness of the state of emergency in the past 12 months to enable us take a proper decision.
“I therefore, appeal that in accordance with the motion moved by the senate leader, we should step it down till another legislative day”, Ekweremadu said.
When the amendment was put to vote, the Senators unanimously approved it, even though the date to undertake the debate was not specified by the lawmakers at the yesterdays’ plenary.
Meanwhile, the decision to defer consideration of Jonathan’s request has been perceived as a tactical delay to wait for the Senate President, David Mark, who had last week traveled to China and is expected back in Nigeria today.
Mark has perfected a way of handling turbulent matters in the Senate, especially those considered above the political sagacity of his Deputy, as witnessed in the aborted defection of some senators from Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a related development, after about four hours closed door meeting, the senators from the North, under the umbrella of Northern Senators Forum, said the North will no longer accept the extension of the emergency rule.
Briefing journalists after the closed door meeting, Chairman of the forum, Dahiru Mustapher, (PDP Sokoto), said the meeting will be extended to talk with the Governors of the three states to find alternative to the extension for the federal government.
According to him, “We believe a lot of things ought to be addressed in order to conquer the issue of insurgency. So, our own position is that we are not going to support extension of the emergency rule in the area.
“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. However, the government must work for the benefits of its citizens.