Why We Approved Extension of Emergency Rule – Reps
The House of Representatives yesterday said it approved the request forwarded by President Goodluck Jonathan seeking a six months’ extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in order to create a legal framework for aid from France, America, the United Kingdom, Israel and other countries to come into force.
Lawmakers in the Green chamber yesterday approved the request sent by Jonathan which was read on the floor by the speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on Tuesday and extensively debated on Wednesday by the House in plenary, before security chiefs were summoned to brief the House yesterday on progress made so far before a vote was taken on whether to extend emergency rule in the states or not.
The service chiefs comprising chief of army staff Major General Kenneth Minimah, chief of naval staff Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, national security adviser Col. Sambo Dasuki, director-general of Department of State Services Eta Ekpeyong, inspector-general of police Mohammed Abubakar, chief of air staff Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu and the director general of NIA were present, but the chief of defence staff was absent from the closed-door meeting which lasted over two hours.
The lawmakers, rising from the executive session after the security chiefs had taken their leave, took a vote on the matter and the majority gave approval while a few members voted against it.
Briefing newsmen after plenary, chairman of the House Media and Public Affairs Committee Hon. Zakari Mohammed, flanked by his deputy Hon. Victor Ogene, Hon. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, Hon. Ralph Nnanna Igbokwe and Hon. Yacoob Bush Alebiousu, said they could not afford to not approve the request after service chiefs informed them that Nigeria is at war and must be equipped in all ways to fight back.
“Section 180(3) provides that If the federation is at war, as the service chiefs has told us that the country is at war — it can be civil war or insurgency war — the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the president considers that it is not practicable to hold election, the National Assembly by resolution could extend the period of four years from time to time. And no such extension shall exceed the period of six months at any one time,” the lawmakers stated.
“This is the only way we can bring an end to this reign of terror,” Mohammed said, adding: “We had a session with the service chiefs on the progress reports on the emergency extension as to how far has it gone and what are those things that have been defaulting their operations. Having listened to them, for the interest of stability and a stable nation, we have decided as the House to vote unanimously for the extension of the emergency in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe for another period of six months.
“We were told that there is progress that has been made; in the last extension it will soon be crowned with success, especially now that they have foreign collaborators who are helping in fighting this terrorism.
“As a responsible institution, we decided to give them approval to be able to get the desired result. It is their responsibility to provide us with the security of lives and property. We know that this is the only way we can end this terrorism. We have all the assurances by the service chiefs.”
Commenting on the welfare of troops, which has come under scrutiny in the last few days, the spokesman said the top security heads assured them that their entitlements were being given to them along with other steps to boost their morale.
Giving another reason they approved the request, he said that they wanted to provide “a legal framework to accommodate these people (countries offering foreign assistance)” and the amendment of the Emergency Powers Regulation Act will take care of it.
On rescue operations of Chibok schoolgirls, he said they were told that “they are making progress and very, very soon, they will unite with their families”.
Speaking on how continued emergency rule would affect elections in the affected states, Hon. Tukur El-Sudi, who is a constitution lawyer and former attorney-general of Taraba State, said this was one of the fears of lawmakers from the states but that the constitution has already addressed the issue in sections 64(2), 105(2), 135(3) and 180(3) by providing for how tenure can be extended during war times.
He said, “One fundamental issue that was raised by the security chiefs is the fact on the Chibbok girls and the international community like the US, Britain, China coming to assist us. One of the primary demands of these countries is that they want a legal framework; as at now we don’t have any domestic legal framework to accommodate these people. The only legal framework we have is section 305, the emergency rule, where by the rules and the regulations we can amend to accommodate them.
“And they practically made it clear to us that operational frameworks are the international treaties. This is where the US and the other countries are coming in, but, as you know, section 12 … for the avoidance of doubt, I would read it to you for Nigerians to understand: ‘No treaty between the federation of another country shall have the force of law except the extent where the treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly’.
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