Northern senators yesterday opposed the extension of emergency rule in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, saying activities of the insurgents had heightened in the states despite military presence in the area.
Reacting to President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the extension of the emergency rule in the affected states read on the floor of the senate by the senate president, David Mark, they expressed the view that the military could go on with its activities without further emergency proclamation and vowed not to endorse the request.
The president had in the letter dated November 17, 2014 said the extension became necessary following the continued insurgency in the affected states.
“It is important to state that despite concerted efforts by this administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation are yet to abate. Consequently, it has become imperative to request the approval of the Senate for extension of the period for the state of emergency for a further period of six months”, the letter read in part.
The request is the third extension the presidency will be seeking. The first proclamation of emergency rule in the three states was approved on May 13, 2013, the first extension was in November of the same year and the second in May this year.
The leader of the Senate moved for an executive session to discuss the request of the president. Shortly after the senators ended the closed door session two hours later, the Senate president announced that they “had a very extensive debate on it and will continue with the debate tomorrow (today)”, before announcing adjournment of plenary to today.
Speaking after the plenary, Sen. Ali Ndume (Borno South) said the emergency rule imposed in the states had failed to yield any progress in the fight against insurgency as more areas had been captured by Boko Haram sect and more violence reported since then.
“Approving another six months will be like bringing more trouble to ourselves. Before the approval in May, most of the villages were not captured by the insurgents. Emergency rule has given the insurgents an edge over the civilians. By 6 pm, you will not see anybody on the streets and the insurgents will be using the opportunity to attack people and capture territories.
“If there is no emergency, people will be more alert. The people I represent are against the extension of the emergency rule. Election is not the issue right now, according to the constitution, the principal duty of government is the protection of lives and properties of its citizens and not elections”, he stated.
Similarly, Senator Ahmed Lawan (Yobe North) also rejected the request. He said, “Although, we will continue deliberations on the issue tomorrow (today), 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 their capacity to handle this insurgency except if the government is telling us that so many things are fundamentally wrong.
“Discussions on it will definitely continue tomorrow but I want to tell you that I am totally opposed to it. I believe that after 18 months of the state of emergency, we should look at other avenues.