Emergency Rule: Senators Disagree Over Jonathan’s Request
Debate over the propriety or otherwise of a request by President Goodluck Jonathan for a six months extension of emergency rule in North Eastern Nigeria was stalled on Tuesday, after senators failed to reach an agreement.
Senators had earlier opted to debate the president’s request for a six months extension behind closed doors.
This was sequel to a motion by the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma – Egba, who cited order 40 (2) of the Senate standing rule.
After about two and half hours of deliberations, the Senate announced that further debate will be held on Wednesday because an agreement was yet to be reached.
Senate President, David Mark, who spoke at the end of deliberations said, “The Senate in a closed session met and discussed the letter from Mr. President on the extension of a state of emergency.
“We had a very extensive debate on it. And we will continue with the debate tomorrow (Wednesday).
Earlier, President Jonathan had in a letter to the Senate said, “Extension of the period for the proclamation of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
“May I respectfully draw your attention to the state of emergency proclamation 2013 in respect of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States which was approved by the National Assembly and extended for a further period of six months by the National Assembly as conveyed by the Clerk of the National Assembly dated 21st of May, 2014.
“By virtue of provisions of Sections 305, (6) C of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the proclamation afore mentioned will elapse after a period of six months from the date of approval of the National Assembly except the period is extended by the National Assembly.
“It is important to state that despite concerted efforts by this administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation are yet to abate.
“Consequently, it has become imperative to request the approval of the senate for extension of the period for the state of emergency for a further period of six months.
“In view of the foregoing, I most respectfully request distinguished senators to consider and approve by resolution the extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency by a further period of six months from the date of expiration of the current period.
“I look forward distinguished Senate President to the usual kind expeditious consideration of the above request by the senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
However, the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Bello Tukur (PDP, Adamawa Central), who briefed journalists after the senate had adjourned, declined to give details of what transpired at the closed-door session.
Tukur, who refused to also entertain questions from reporters, said, ” the senate met behind closed – doors to consider the letter from Mr. President but we did not conclude deliberations on it .
“I want you to reserve whatever questions you have on the issue till tomorrow when we would have concluded discussions on it”
Two Senators from the affected states however spoke to reporters in separate interviews. The two are: Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) and Ali Ndume (Bornu South).
Both men told reporters that their colleagues were opposed to the request.
Lawan said, “Although, we will continue deliberations on the issue tomorrow (today), but I can assure you that we will not approve the emergency rule extension because the president can deploy the military to any part of the country without declaring state of emergency.
“We have a very strong military in Nigeria and nobody csn doubt their capacity to handle this insurgency except if the government is telling us that so many things are fundamentally wrong.
“Discussions on it will definitely continue tomorrow but I want to tell you that I am totally opposed to it. I believe that after 18 months of the state of emergency, we should look at other avenue.
“So many options are being advanced which would be concluded tomorrow. What we need at the moment is the massive deployment of troops to quickly launch serious attacks because we had lost so many territories already.
“The request for the extension of the state if emergency is only a waste of time because we had it for 18 months which ended in total failure.”
Speaking in a similar vein, Ndume said, “The state of emergency since it was declared in the three states had taken us from bad to worse. Our fear now is that if we extend it again, we are inviting more problems to ourselves because the insurgents would capture more territories during the period.
“As the representative of my people, my entire constituents are totally opposed to the extension of the emergency rule because it restricts movements of the civilian populace while the insurgents move freely and have a field day.
“When people are sleeping in the night, the insurgents are freely moving around. By 6pm, the whole towns are closed but the insurgents are busy taking control of everywhere. ”
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