Insecurity: No Plans to Hold 2015 Elections at the Moment – David Mark
Senate President David Mark yesterday said conducting elections in 2015 is “not on the table” for now because the nation is at war with Boko Haram.
Mark spoke during a debate on a motion titled “Threat to National Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Nigeria by Insurgents”, moved by Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross Rivers) and 44 others.
“There is no question of election; it is not even on the table now. We are in a state of war,” the Senate President said, on the day the National Assembly reconvened after weeks of recess.
Boko Haram has been holding several towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states for weeks now, starting August 6 when they seized Gwoza and later proclaimed it part of an Islamic caliphate.
“When Boko Haram moved from kidnapping, killing of people and destruction of property to occupation of parts of Nigerian territory, it has declared total war in Nigeria,” Mark said yesterday.
“There is no difference between what Boko Haram is doing against Nigeria and what an enemy country waging war in Nigeria would have done.”
He added: “The issue is beyond that of mere internal security. It is about how we execute the war. If Boko Haram has captured most of the parts of the country we represent and has created a caliphate, it means that some of the senators from those areas can no longer be in this chamber.
This is why we must pay urgent attention to the matter.”
The issue of whether elections could be held in states under emergency rule came up late last year when the Independent National Electoral Commission hinted that it may not be feasible to hold the 2015 elections in those places.
This attracted widespread condemnation especially from opposition politicians who said it was a ploy to disenfranchise Nigerians and favour President Jonathan. INEC later clarified that it never said there would be no elections in those states.
But there has been suspicion in some quarters that the raging insurgency could be used as a reason to suspend all elections nationwide.
Speaking during yesterday’s debate, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu expressed fear that the 2015 general elections might suffer serious problems because of the prevailing security problems.
He argued that some provisions of the Constitution are clear that if the nation is at war, the issue of election could be jettisoned.
The 1999 Constitution provides that when the nation is at war elections could be suspended and tenures of politicians extended for a renewable six-month period through a resolution of the National Assembly.
Section 135 of the Constitution says: “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time; but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time.”
The subsection referred to here affects the tenure of the President. There are other similar constitutional provisions on extending the tenures of state governors, and federal and state lawmakers under sections 180, 64 and 105 respectively.
After a heated debate, the Senate resolved to mandate its leadership, relevant security committees and all senators from the three troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to meet with President Jonathan to ask him to declare “total war” on Boko Haram.
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