The House of Representatives yesterday said it approved the letter forwarded by President Goodluck Jonathan requesting a six months’ extension of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states in order to give legal backing to the offer of assistance from France, America, the United Kingdom, Israel and other countries to come into force.
The House yesterday approved the request, which was read on the floor by the speaker, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on Tuesday and extensively debated on Wednesday in plenary, before security chiefs were summoned to brief the House in a closed door session on progress made so far before a vote was taken on whether to extend the state of emergency or not.
The Service Chiefs comprising Chief of Army Staff, Major General Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin; National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); Director-General of Department of State Services, Eta Ekpeyong; Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar; Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu; and the Director General of NIA were present, but the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alexander Badeh, was absent from the closed-door meeting which lasted over two hours.
The rep members, rising from the executive session after they were briefed by the security chiefs, took a vote on the matter and the majority gave approval while a few members voted against it.
In a chat with journalists after plenary, chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zakari Mohammed, flanked by his deputy Hon. Victor Ogene, Hon. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, Hon. Ralph Nnanna Igbokwe and Hon. Yacoob Bush Alebiousu, said they could not afford to not approve the president’s request after service chiefs informed them that Nigeria was at war and must be equipped in all ways to fight back.
“Section 180(3) provides that If the federation is at war, as the service chiefs has told us that the country is at war — it can be civil war or insurgency war — the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the president considers that it is not practicable to hold election, the National Assembly by resolution could extend the period of four years from time to time. And no such extension shall exceed the period of six months at any one time”, the lawmakers stated.
“This is the only way we can bring an end to this reign of terror”, Mohammed said, adding: “We had a session with the service chiefs on the progress reports on the emergency extension as to how far has it gone and what are those things that have been defaulting their operations. Having listened to them, for the interest of stability and a stable nation, we have decided as the House to vote unanimously for the extension of the emergency in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe for another period of six months.
“We were told that there is progress that has been made; in the last extension it will soon be crowned with success, especially now that they have foreign collaborators who are helping in fighting this terrorism.
“As a responsible institution, we decided to give them approval to be able to get the desired result. It is their responsibility to provide us with the security of lives and property. We know that this is the only way we can end this terrorism. We have all the assurances by the service chiefs”.
Commenting on the welfare of troops in the battle front, which has come under scrutiny in the last few days, the Reps’ spokesperson said the top military brass at the executive session assured them that entitlements of troops were being given as at when due along with other incentives to boost their morale.
Giving another reason they approved the request, Mohammmed said that they wanted to provide “a legal framework to accommodate these people (countries offering foreign assistance)” and the amendment of the Emergency Powers Regulation Act will take care of it.
On rescue operations of Chibok schoolgirls, he said they were told that “they are making progress and very, very soon, they will unite with their families”.