ACN Senators may shun party’s position on State of Emergency

ACN lawmakers said they have not taken a decision.

The Nigerian Senate is expected to approve, by more than two-third required majority, the State of Emergency announced by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

Despite the president’s announcement, the Nigerian constitution in Section 305 states that for the State of Emergency to be valid, the president must ensure it is published in an official gazette which must be backed by two-thirds majority in each chamber of the National Assembly.

Of the five major political parties that are represented in the National Assembly, only one, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has vehemently opposed the declaration.

The ACN spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, in two statements released within two states after Mr. Jonathan’s announcement, condemned the declaration asking the National Assembly to reject it.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, which controls one of the three states affected, Adamawa; and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, which controls the remaining two (Borno and Yobe) have declared support for it; saying it could bring peace.

Though the ACN lawmakers alone cannot prevent a two-third majority; where they to convince all other opposition lawmakers to tow their line, then the PDP, which has majority lawmakers, would not get the required two-thirds needed for the approval.

ACN Senators oppose

Despite the ACN’s position, indications emerged on Monday that the Senators elected on behalf of the party may vote against the party’s position.

An ACN Senator, Domingo Obende (Edo) said that the ACN caucus at the National Assembly will view the declaration of emergency rule in three states based on national and not party interest.

Mr. Obende made the statement at an interactive session with Senate correspondents in Abuja on Monday, adding that it was more the position of the nation than that of the party.

“What I think we are going to be looking at tomorrow ( Tuesday) is not the position of the ACN but that of the nation and whether it is going to be better for Nigeria,” Mr. Obende stated indicating that the more than a dozen ACN Senators could tow a different line from the party.

“I believe that we should not abort the baby right now. We should wait till tomorrow before I can proffer answer to this question.

“As a caucus of the ACN, we have not taken a decision,” he added.

He, however, said that whatever position the ACN National Assembly caucus took would be in the best interest of the nation.

The Senate President, David Mark, had on Thursday last week said the Senate would consider the declaration at its Tuesday meeting. The House of Representatives is expected to also debate the issue.

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