The Senate on Tuesday abruptly adjourned plenary till Wednesday (today) following a sharp disagreement by its members over President Goodluck Jonathan’s fresh request to extend emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
Senate President David Mark, had to tactically defer further discussion on the matter after gauging the mood of his colleagues, many of whom opposed the bid.
Curiously, Jonathan addressed the same letter to House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, whom the Federal Government had declared had lost his seat following his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A statement from Tambuwal’s office yesterday said the House would reconvene today, ahead of its December 3 resumption date, to consider Jonathan’s request.
It was gathered that senators were furious at an executive session, held behind closed doors, where the president’s request for an extension of the emergency rule was discussed.
Sources said at the executive session that lasted for one-and-a-half hours, many senators, especially from the North, threatened to vote against it, saying the last extension in May 2014 would be the last time they would support further extension of the imposition of state of emergency that was imposed on the states since May 2013.
Senators Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) and Ali Ndume (Borno South), in separate interviews with reporters after plenary session, said their colleagues opposed another plan by Jonathan to extend the emergency rule.
According to Lawan, “although we will continue deliberations on the issue tomorrow (today), 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 a state of emergency.
“We have a very strong military in Nigeria and nobody can 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 (today), 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 avenues.
“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 have lost so many territories already.
“And at any case, the president, under Section 218 of the 1999 Constitution, has the powers to deploy the military in whatever capacity without a declaration of a state of emergency.
“I believe that a state of emergency extension is only a waste of time because we have had a state of emergency for 18 months and the result we all know is failure.”
Ndume, on his part, also expressed opposition to the proposal because extension of the martial rule would further worsen the situation in the three north-eastern states.
“The state of emergency since it was declared in the three states had taken us from bad to worse. Our fears now are 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 representatives 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 6p.m., the whole towns are closed, but the insurgents are busy taking control of everywhere.”
Ndume doubted the sincerity of the Federal Government to fight the insurgency and urged the military authorities to adopt a fresh strategy to combat terrorism.
Other senators who also spoke on the development admitted that the declaration of the state of emergency in the affected states had not achieved the desired objectives since it was proclaimed in May 2013.
Earlier, Mark had postponed till today the debate on Jonathan’s request for the extension of the state of emergency.
The president had asked the Senate, through a letter, approve the extension of the martial rule to enable the Federal Government to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
The letter, entitled: “Extension of the period for the proclamation of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states,” reads: “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’s letter dated 21st of May, 2014.
“By virtue of provisions of Sections 305, Subsection 6C of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the proclamation aforementioned 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.”
On its part, the House is cutting short its recess tomorrow to consider the president’s request to extend emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
Tambuwal, in the statement from his office, said: “On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, I received a communication from the President, Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, requesting for the extension of the existing state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by the House of Representatives.
“Pursuant to the powers conferred on me by Section 305 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, which requires me to “forthwith convene or arrange a meeting of the House” and in order to treat the extension before the expiration of the current state of emergency in accordance with Section 305 (6) (c) of the Constitution, I hereby reconvene the House of Representatives, currently on recess…”
Meanwhile, President Jonathan yesterday met with Mark and Tambuwal’s deputy, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, it was gathered that it centred on the fresh extension of the emergency rule in the three states.
The decision to extend the emergency rule was arrived at after a meeting of the National Defence Council, which held in Abuja on Monday.