politicsThe House of Representatives on Thursday approved the extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states by another six months.
The decision came through a majority voice vote shortly after a closed-door meeting with service chiefs ended around 4.40pm.
The meeting, which started at 2.09pm, was presided over by the Speaker of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal.
Tambuwal said the House chose to vote on the matter following a “robust debate” by members earlier on Wednesday.
In the Senate, members resolved to consult with more stakeholders before voting on its desirability or otherwise. This decision was reached after a three-hour closed-door session between their leadership and security chiefs in Abuja .
The security chiefs were Air Marshal Alex Badeh (Chief of Defence Staff); Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah (Chief of Army Staff); Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin (Chief of Naval Staff); Air Vice-Marshal Adesola Amosu (Chief of Air Staff); Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar (Inspector-General of Police); and Mr. Ekpeyong Nsah (Director, Department State Security).
President Goodluck Jonathan had forwarded the request for the extension of the emergency rule to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Tambuwal explained that the meeting between the House and the service chiefs focused on the current security situation in the three states and the progress made so far to secure the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted by insurgents in Chibok on April 14.
“We have been duly briefed on these two issues by the service chiefs and I therefore put the question for us to vote”, Tambuwal added.
He put the question and gave the vote to the majority voices shouting “ayes.”
The PUNCH learnt that prior to the meeting with the security officials, many lawmakers had vowed to oppose the extension.
However, they were said to have changed their minds after the briefing by the service chiefs.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, later confirmed at a news conference that the security chiefs were able to convince the lawmakers to extend the emergency period.
He stated that the extension was needed for the military to “consolidate on the progress made during the last extension of emergency rule, especially now that there is going to be foreign assistance.”
However, the meeting admitted that there was no constitutional backing for the foreign assistance sought by Jonathan to combat insurgency.
A member, who attended the meeting, Mr. Ibrahim El-Sudi, said the countries sending troops to assist Nigeria were coming under various international treaties.
But, he noted that the snag was that none of the treaties had been ratified by the National Assembly.
However, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said senators had fruitful deliberation with the security 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 improve at the shortest possible time.
“The Senate also agreed to do further consultation with all the necessary stakeholders to ensure that everybody could buy into whatever that is needed to be done to secure those states and defeat insurgents there.
“This is what transpired at our closed-door session. So by Tuesday next week, we will continue our deliberation on the state of emergency and insurgency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.”
A Senator from Yobe State, Ahmed Lawan, however maintained the position of the Northern senators that they would vote against the request by Jonathan.
Lawan said, “We are against a state of emergency. What we require is effectiveness of those (military) who are there and that does not require a state of emergency. What we need to do is to ensure that whatever resources are appropriated are utilised properly.
“The military had conducted very massive operations in Nasarawa, Benue, Zamfara states and recently in Katsina State. Those states were not under a state of emergency before those operations were conducted.
“Let me tell you, insurgency does not end. In Turkey, it’s been’, over 30 years, in Pakistan and Colombia, its over 50 years. Insurgency doesn’t end.
“What you need to do is to continue to get the right arms and re-strategise until you get to the situation where people would feel better. And you don’t have to be under a state of emergency.”