Update: Reps support emergency rule but differ with Senate on administration, funding

The lawmakers approved the State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa.

The House of Representatives backed the Senate on Tuesday to approve President Jonathan’s request for emergency rule in three northeast states, but steered away from the upper chamber to initiate stricter measures to check the president on funding and administration of the rule.

Unlike the Senate’s holistic passage of the president’s request, the House conducted detailed analysis of all clauses for hours behind closed-doors, and rejected Mr. Jonathan’s proposal that the federal government routinely apply the statutory funds belonging to the affected states for the emergency.

The House said the Emergency Act provides that such funding should altogether be provided by the federal government.

“The Emergency Act has provided for the funding from the consolidated revenue of the federal government,” said Ibrahim El Sudi, a lawmaker from Taraba State.

The senate had earlier advised the government to deploy only federal funds for the operations, with reports some states like Yobe have spent over N5 billion on the Joint Military Task force before the emergency rule began last week.

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The House also asked the president to back away from assuming powers that may allow him take charge of full administrative powers of those states as contained in his proposal, insisting that such authority be limited to only security issues.

The president’s proposal would have allowed him powers to overrule the governors and the local government heads as he wishes on issues affecting the areas.

The House also inserted a wholly new clause to the president’s proposal, mandating the payment of “compensation to victims of terrorism on or before the emergency declaration” last week.

The variations with the senate are to be addressed by a conference committee headed by Sam Tsokwa, the chairman House committee on Business and Rules. A report is expected Wednesday.

But more than the differences, the two chambers made it clear their emphasis remain on ensuring the elected structures of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states were not tampered with as with previous emergency rules.

In earlier remarks, Senate president David Mark said “that all democratic structures” at the local and state levels in the three states “must be in place, be allowed to fully operate and should not be tampered with.”

The speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, said the measures were in support of democracy.

“The essence of all we have done is to ensure the democratic structures are left intact,” Mr. Tambuwal said in remarks after the resolution got the unanimous support of 253 members.

The constitution requires the at least 240 members vote in support of the decision.

Mr. Tambuwal praised the military for their commitment to confronting the crisis, and rooting insurgents responsible for the deaths of about 3,000 people since 2009.

He however advised troops to respect the rights of the innocents, amid growing allegation of abuses by security forces in the area.

“May I caution our men and women in uniform to be mindful of the rights of those who are not in any way involved in the wanton destruction of lives and properties,” he said.

Mr. Jonathan’s letter to the National Assembly curiously bore Monday’s date-May 20; suggesting the letter either arrived late as speculated-which would question why the Senate announced its plan to consider it since Thursday if it had no letter; or the letter was updated after uproar over potential breach of the constitutional timelines on its passage.

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