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Setback for war against terror?: Northern Senators move against extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa

By News Express on 15/05/2014

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Northern senators under the aegis of the Northern Senators’ Forum yesterday rejected the extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, threatening to shoot down the proposal when it is brought up for debate on the floor of the Senate.

This is as both chambers of the National Assembly yesterday resolved to suspend any decision on the president’s request to extend the emergency rule in the said states until they have been briefed by the service chiefs.

While the Senate shelved the debate altogether, the House of Representatives suspended voting on the subject after the debate was held.

The northern senators resolved to oppose the extension of the emergency rule after a three-hour closed-door session yesterday.

They argued that unlike what obtained when it was proclaimed and its first extension, they had now had a rethink, adding that more needed to be done beyond a mere emergency proclamation.

Briefing journalists at the end of their meeting, Chairman of the Forum, Senator Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), said the forum, having reviewed the emergency rule declaration so far, including its merits and demerits, resolved not to allow its further extension.

However, he added that since a two-thirds majority was required to pass the resolution on the extension, they would be left with no option than to accept the outcome if they are eventually outwitted during the voting exercise.

He also said the senators had resolved to meet the three governors affected by the emergency rule to know where things actually went wrong.

Dahiru said: “Our meeting this afternoon (yesterday) 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 basically 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 would enable security personnel to achieve success in the area.

“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 the 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 the best way to tackle the crisis. However, the government must work for the benefits of its citizens.

“The leadership of the affected states and our forum here are saying no to emergency rule. The constitution requires a two-thirds majority in terms of voting.

“Technically, Section 304(6), states the requirements of how the state of emergency should be declared and our own position is against it and obviously, we are going to stand by it.”

Of the 109 senators in Senate, 57 are from the 19 northern states while 52 are from the South. If the entire northern senators oppose the extension, then the proposal is dead on arrival.

However, it is expected that not all the northern senators would oppose the extension, as the major opposition will come from North-east and North-west while North-central comprising 18 senators, with the exception of Niger State, may gladly support the extension.

But there will be divided votes in Kwara and Nasarawa States where some senators had defected to APC while others remain in PDP.

But in Kogi, Benue and Plateau states, it will be block votes in support of the extension as senators from these states are disposed to the move.

Earlier, at the plenary in the senate, the upper chamber had moved for the suspension of the debate on the president’s request to seek the state of emergency, pending when the senators have been fully briefed by the service chiefs including the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and Minister of Police Affairs, Abdujelili Adesiyan. 

Although the president’s request had been listed for debate yesterday, the disposition of the lawmakers on the issue was altered when the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, was called upon to set the stage for the debate on the proposal.

But surprisingly, Ndoma-Egba moved for its suspension, saying it was not in the tradition of the Senate to consider a request on emergency rule unless it had appraised the current emergency rule in place in the affected areas to serve as a guide in its decision.

Consequently, Ndoma-Egba moved a motion standing down the planned deliberation and simultaneously moved another motion summoning the service chiefs to appear before the senators at 10 a.m. today.

Ndoma-Egba had further argued that his opposition to the debate stemmed from the fact that the extension proclamation had not been gazetted as stipulated in Section 305 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “This proclamation, according to the requirement of the constitution, must be gazetted and we must circulate the gazette before we can debate it.

“Secondly, it is the tradition of this Senate that we appraise and assess the performance of the state of emergency before we debate.

“So I will move that this distinguished Senate do invites the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff and Inspector General of Police to brief this distinguished Senate at 10 am tomorrow in a closed session to enable us commence the debate on the president’s request.”

Before the Senate could adopt the motion, Senator James Manager (Delta South), called for an amendment to the declaration, and moved that the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Chief of Defence Staff should also be summoned to the meeting while Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano South) suggested that the Police Affairs Minister must also be summoned to the meeting.

Before the motions were unanimously adopted by the chamber, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, described the deliberation on the extension as a very serious business which must be supported by all.

Accordingly, the senate unanimously resolved that the motion be adopted.           

In the same vein, members of the House of Representatives, also resolved to defer the debate on the president’s request until they have been fully briefed by the security chiefs.

Before the resolution was reached, members had shown signs of partisanship in their disposition to the request, as the House became polarised along party lines on the proposed extension by another six months.

In order to douse the palpable tension, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, announced that the leadership of the House reached a unanimous decision that voting on the matter would come after the briefing by the service chiefs.

Tabling the motion for the adoption of Jonathan’s request, House Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola argued that if the state of emergency was not extended, the situation could deteriorate.

This opened the floor for a flurry of arguments, with more than 20 lawmakers speaking in support of the extension, while only six   members spoke against it.

Leader of the Borno caucus in the House, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno) led the pack of supporters, saying: “The Borno caucus is in support of the extension. But let me say that over the last one year, we were all witnesses to the fact that the state of emergency has not yielded the desired result simply because the military lacks the equipment to fight the insurgents.” Other legislators who spoke in favour of the extension, said it was necessary so that the insurgents can be defeated.

However, Hon. Goni Bukar Haruna (APC, Yobe), 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.”

“Emergency rule has not helped us in anyway, rather, it only succeeded in aggravating the insurgency. Since they declared it one year ago, many people were killed in various parts of Borno and Yobe much more than when there was no emergency,” he said.

He argued that emergency rule had only succeeded in breeding more terrorism in Yobe State.

•Excerpted from THISDAY. Photo shows the Senate in session.

Source News Express

Posted 15/05/2014 11:45:38 AM


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