Nigerian Senate fails to extend emergency rule in northeast; summons military chiefs

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan

A divided Senate on Wednesday failed for the second day to approve President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to extend emergency rule in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe State- the three North-East states worst hit by a bloody insurgency by extremist group Boko Haram.

Several lawmakers have 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.

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, currently on break, said it will convene Thursday to discuss the request.

But 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.

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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