House of Reps rejects extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno, Yobe

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives has rejected further extension of emergency rule in the three troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs , Mohammed Zakari, said the lawmakers rejected President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for extension of state of emergency in the three North-East states worst hit by a bloody insurgency by the extremist Boko Haram sect.

Mr. Zakari announced this to newsmen shortly after the house rose from its executive session.

Mr. Zakari said the house resolved that the Federal Government should rely on the provisions of the constitution to deploy military personnel to further combat insurgency in the affected region.

He said, “We have not extended the emergency rule, rather we have asked the president to rely on section 8 of the Armed Forces Act which empowers him to deploy the military to troubled spots of the country.

“If we had approved this today it would have been the fourth on the series.

“You remember the request for emergency rule started in May 2013 and therefore we had done three extensions.

“In anything you are doing, you should be able to take stock; you will be able to see whether or not that action you are taking is yielding results.

“We will be doing more good if Mr President relies on that more.

“Because if we are adopting a particular style and it is not giving us the desired result, we should be able to change it.

“The armed forces act empowers him to deploy soldiers to troubled parts of this country for them to take necessary action.

“This issue was looked at critically at the executive session and we came to this conclusion.”

Mr. Zakari, however, urged Nigerians to play their part in the fight against insurgency currently affecting the country.

He condemned the activities of security operatives who blocked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from entering the National Assembly.

According to him, “we see it as one of the tests of democracy.

“Our 7th assembly is insistent on the independence of the legislature; whatever happens in the House of Representatives can be determined by 360 members.

Several lawmakers had expressed their opposition to the extension, saying previous phases of the emergency rule have done little to help the local population in the three states.

The Nigerian upper legislative chamber, the Senate, had also failed Wednesday to approve the presidential request.

Senate spokesperson, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said Wednesday’s discussions, held behind closed doors, were “very frank and acrimonious”.

Boko Haram militants have seized and held many communities and towns in Borno and Adamawa States since August, and have overrun government forces and killed many civilians.

An emergency rule in the three states, in place since May 2013, expires this week.

Mr. Jonathan has urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to approve a six-month extension.

The House of Representatives, which was on break till December 3, had reconvened Thursday to discuss the request.

But as lawmakers tried to access their chamber for the session, security agents massed up at National Assembly gates, denying Speaker Aminu Tambuwal and some other lawmakers entry.

Some lawmakers had to scale fences while Mr. Tambuwal was smuggled in by his loyalists who overpowered the security operatives.

The sitting then held, with members rejecting Mr. Jonatan’s request.

But even at the Senate, the president’s request is facing its biggest opposition yet, with many lawmakers vowing to ensure the plan is rejected.

A closed-door session on Tuesday ended without a decision on the matter.

The second day of debates held behind closed doors on Wednesday too ended the same way.

After sitting, the Senate president, David Mark, announced that the deliberation will continue Thursday.

He also said military chiefs have been invited to provide clarifications to senators on the fight against Boko Haram.

The Senate spokesperson, Mr. Abaribe, said Wednesday’s discussions were “very frank, robust and very acrimonious”.

“We hope to take a decision in the interest of this country,” Mr. Abaribe told reporters after the session.

Lawmakers from the affected states have vowed to block the proposal.

Ahmad Lawan, who represents Yobe North, said while the deliberations will continue, “I can assure you that we will not approve the emergency rule extension because the president can deploy the military to any part of the country without declaring state of emergency”.

“We have a very strong military in Nigeria and nobody can doubt that except if the government is telling us that so many things are fundamentally wrong,” he said Tuesday.

“The request for the extension of the state of emergency is only a waste of time because we had it for 18 months which ended in total failure.”

Ali Ndume, representing Borno south senatorial district, said emergency rule has only worsened the security situation in the area.

“The state of emergency since it was declared in the three states had taken us from bad to worse. Our fears now is that if we extend it again, we are inviting more problems to ourselves because the insurgents would capture more territories during the period,” he said.

“As the representatives of my people, my entire constituents are totally opposed to the extension of the emergency rule because it restricts movements of the civilian populace while the insurgents move freely and have a field day.”

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