After high wired politicking, consultations and horse-trading, the Nigerian Senate approves President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for a six-month extension of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Jun. 2, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
AFTER several threats, negotiations and high level politicking, the Senate finally approved the extension of emergency rule in the three northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe on Tuesday March 19, 2014.
President Goodluck Jonathan had, on Tuesday May 14, approached the Senate seeking an extension of the one year emergency rule that had been imposed on the troubled North East states.
A six month state of emergency was first declared in the three states on May 23, 2013 following the unrelenting activities of members of the Boko Harm sect. When the period elapsed without much improvement in the security situation in the three states, Jonathan approached the Senate for a six month extension which was granted on November 7, 2013.
As the end of the second extension was approaching, the president approached the Senate with a request of another six months’ extension. He based his decision to seek an extension on the fact that insecurity in the three states which warranted the declaration of a state of emergency rule in the first instance, had not abated.
In a letter addressed to David Mark, president of the Senate, Jonathan said: “I most respectfully request distinguished Senators to consider and approve by resolution, the extension of the proclamation of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States by a further term of six months from the date of expiration of the current term.”
No sooner was the letter read on the floor of the Senate than some senators from the affected states began to protest. Many of them vowed to ensure that the Senate did not approve the president’s request.
Although the Senate was expected to take a decision on the request on the following day after the letter was read, the debate on the matter was postponed.
Ike Ekwerenmadu, deputy Senate president, who presided over the session that day, said the postponement was to enable the lawmakers consult widely before taking a decision on the president’s request.
Ekwerenmadu also disclosed that the senators had agreed to summon the nation’s service chiefs and other security officials to get first hand information from them about the state of affairs in the three affected states before taking a decision.
The next day, the lawmakers had a closed door meeting with the service chiefs. The meeting which lasted for more than four hours was attended by, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, chief of defence staff; Lieutenant-General Kenneth Minimah, chief of army staff; Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, chief of naval staff; Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosu chief of air staff; Mohammed Abubakar, inspector-general of police, and Ekpenyong Nsah, director, department of state services. After the meeting, Ekweremadu said the senators had a fruitful deliberation with the service chiefs.
He said: “As responsible and patriotic Nigerians, we are looking at it from very diverse angles to ensure that the security situation in those states improves in the shortest possible time. Apart from that, the Senate also agreed to do further consultation with all the necessary stakeholders to ensure that everybody could buy into whatever needs to be done to secure those states and defeat insurgency there.
“This was what transpired at our closed-door session. So by Tuesday, we will continue our deliberation on the state of emergency and insurgency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.” Despite the fact that senators from the three affected states were present at the meeting, some of them still insisted that the emergency rule would not be extended.
Senator Ahmad Lawan, representing Yobe North Senatorial district, said there was no need for the extension because it was not a guarantee that the insurgency in the three states would end anytime soon. He said: “I feel very strongly that as a Senator representing Yobe North, one of the states under a state of emergency, sufficient consultation has not been done. We know where the shoe pinches and we have made it categorically clear, our people have made their minds known; our elders have made their minds known.
“Why must you continue to be under a state of emergency? Let me tell you, insurgency does not end. In Turkey, for over 30 years, it was the PKK. You go to Columbia, over 50 years, the FAC. It doesn’t end. What you need to do is to continue to get the right arms and strategies and re-strategise until you get to a situation where the people will feel better.
“For how long are we going to be under a state of emergency? Definitely you cannot wipe out insurgency in one, two or three years, let alone months.”
Like it was on the day the letter was read, the Senate deferred taking a position on the matter that day even after the meeting with the service chiefs.
Tension was rising as the delay continued despite the fact that the House of Representative had approved the extension of the emergency rule. Everyone waited for the Senate’s decision.
That decision finally came on Tuesday May 19, after over two hours of closed door meeting. The Senate approved the extension of the emergency rule in the three states but with some conditions attached.
Leading the debate on the motion on the extension, Victor Ndoma – Egba, Senate leader, noted that the Upper House had earlier on November 7, 2013, considered and approved the extension of the period of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
He explained that by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, the proclamation would elapse after a period of approval, except the period is extended by the National Assembly.
He recalled that the ministers of defence and police affairs, service chiefs and the director-general, department of state security, inspector general of police, and the national security adviser, had briefed the Senate on the state of security in the affected states.
The Senate leader therefore urged his fellow colleagues to approve the extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency as contained in the Emergency Powers (General) Regulations 2013, effective in the affected states.
Ndoma-Egba, said that by the Senate approval, the emergency rule would remain in force for a further period of six months in accordance with the terms, conditions, content and context as earlier passed by the National Assembly.
The motion was unanimously adopted by all the senators in a voice vote without any dissenting voice. The conditions attached to this latest extension are:
“The Senate also welcomes and endorses the support of the international community in respect of efforts to rescue the abducted Chibok girls and urge Mr President to expand the cooperation and collaboration to the overall arrest of the ugly incidence of terrorism in Nigeria.
“The Senate also calls for proper kitting and arming of the armed forces deployed to arrest the insurgency and adequate welfare care for troops.
“The Senate urges that full military operation be undertaken on a sustained basis to root out the insurgents.
“Special recruitment into Armed Forces of screened and vetted youths particularly those in the Civilian JTF who will receive emergency training and deployed in the troubled zone in order to beef up the strength of our troops and win hearts and minds of the locals.
“The federal government, in conjuction with the state government, to come up with an economic marshal plan to revive the economy of the economically and educationally backward parts of our country. Federal government to seek and secure multilateral support for such marshal plan.
“The ministers of defence, police affairs, service chiefs, NSA and DG DSS to report to the Senate on a monthly basis the progress made in combating the insurgency on the basis of which the Senate can take any decision it considers necessary including but not limited to the revocation of the declaration of state of emergency.
“The Senate urges Mr President to prepare and submit to the NASS, a supplementary budget to meet any establishment financial requirement needed to combat the insurgency and Mr President to approve intervention funds to the affected states for development.”
In his remarks, Senate president, David Mark, thanked the Senators for looking at the issue from a national perspective and not as a regional issue He said: I thank you for the pains taken in the discussion that took place and the subsequent approval. Let me also say emphatically here that we have requested that certain issues be resolved as quickly as possible. We stand shoulder to shoulder behind our colleagues from all the states affected. We take this in the same vein that we are all equally affected and that this is a national issue and not a sectional issue in any form.”