The Senate on Tuesday unanimously endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the extension of emergency rule in the troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Before giving the approval, as did by the House of Representatives last week, the Senate suggested nine conditions that should be put in place by the Federal Government to ensure its (emergency rule) success.
The conditions which formed part of the prayers contained in the motion moved by the Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma – Egba, are:
• That the Federal Government should expand military cooperation and collaboration with the international community on the rescue of the over 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok, Borno State;
• That the government should not only provide adequate welfare for the troops deployed to arrest insurgency in parts of the country, they should be properly kitted and armed;
• That full military operation be undertaken on sustained basis to defeat the insurgents;
• That there should be special recruitments into armed forces of screened youths, particularly those in the civilian JTF to beef up the number of troops in the troubled states and win the hearts of the local people;
• That the Federal Government, in conjunction with state governments, should come out with an Economic Marshal Plan to revive the economy of the economically and educationally-backward parts of the country;
• That the government should seek and secure Multi-lateral support for the Marshal Plan.
• That the ministers of Defence and Police Affairs; the National Security Adviser; and the Director-General, Department of State Services should report to the Senate on a monthly basis, progress made in combating the insurgents.
• That Jonathan should prepare and submit to the National Assembly, supplementary budget to meet any financial requirements for combating the insurgents; and
• That Mr. President should immediately approve intervention funds for the affected states for development.
Before arriving at the decision, principal officers of the Senate had held marathon meetings with senators from the affected states.
When the chamber was opened to the public for observation, Ndoma – Egba read the motion for the extension of the state of emergency.
He noted that the Senate had on November 7, 2013, considered and approved the extension of the period of the state of emergency in the three states.
The Senate Leader explained that by virtue of Section 305 ( 6 ) ( c ) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Proclamation would elapse after a period of approval, except it was extended by the National Assembly.
He added that Jonathan, in a letter dated May 13, 2014, requested a further extension of the period in the affected states.
Ndoma – Egba stated further that the Senate recognised that the security situation in those states remained daunting in the face of persistent attacks by Boko Haram on civilian and military targets.
He recalled that the ministers of Defence and Police Affairs, the service chiefs and the DSS director-general, the IG and the NSA, had briefed the Senate on the state of security in the affected states.
The senator therefore urged his colleagues to approve the extension of the state of emergency as contained in the emergency powers (General) Regulations, 2013 effective in the three states.
Ndoma – Egba said that by the 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.
Senate President David Mark commended his colleagues for the discussions that took place and the subsequent approval.
He said, “Let me also say emphatically here that we have requested that certain issues be resolved as quickly as possible.
“We stand 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 one in any form.”
Briefing journalists after the plenary, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Eyinnaya Abaribe, said the Senate had a closed session in order to have concession on the issue.
He said some of his colleagues had reservations that were also resolved hence the emergency rule was unanimously approved.
Senators from the North had last week vowed to oppose the extension of the emergency rule in the three states on the grounds that it had not achieved the desired results.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, said on Tuesday that the House extended the emergency rule in the three states to give legal backing to the war against terrorism in the country.
He also said members believed that extending the stay of the military in the states was a way of consolidating the progress made so far by the military.
Tambuwal spoke in Abuja when he met with the Botswana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Louis Fisher, at the National Assembly.
According to the speaker, by extending the rule, the House had given backing to the assistance offered Nigeria by some countries such as the US, France, among others to combat Boko Haram insurgents.
He added that this was to ensure the rescue of the abducted girls.
Tambuwal said, “Our effort is not just geared towards the safe return of our girls, but it is also targeted at ending insurgency in the country as a whole.” – Punch.