Opposition senators teamed with other lawmakers Tuesday to back President Jonathan’s request for an emergency rule in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, snubbing their parties that had primed them to kick against a military campaign that began a week ago in the trouble states
But the senate urged the federal government to issue troops with a code of conduct to ensure they are “humane, benevolent and respectful” to the residents of the three states. The senate passed the request in unanimous vote participated by 100 senators, more than the constitutional two thirds benchmark required.
The decision gives a partial legal backing to the president’s declaration last week. A House of Representatives vote is expected later Tuesday or Wednesday. The House remained in an executive session by Tuesday noon. Emerging from its closed-session that lasted more than an hour, the Senate said while the decision may have been belated, “it is better late than never”.
It however urged the federal government to press the amnesty option alongside the military, as it was convinced the final solution to the insurgency was not military. “We are conscious of the fact that the government is taking the decision as the last resort,” said Senate President David Mark, after the session.
“We emphasize that at the end of the day, a military solution is not the solution to the problem on the ground; but to win the hearts of the people in these areas and indeed the entire country. Government should us the carrot and stick approach.”
The senate also called for the rule to be brought to a close as quickly as possible, and asked the federal government to take full charge of funding, amid allegations that states were left to struggle to fund the security operations. But the senate spokesperson, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said Mr. Jonathan had not requested for extra funding yet.
If he did, the senate was sure to approve, Mr. Abaribe said. Mr. Abaribe said the executive session allowed lawmakers to speak to each other “frankly” about the dire security situation the nation faced, necessitating the extreme measures, exchanges that won over opposition senators, mainly from the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; and the Congress from Progressive Change, who had hinted they may oppose the decision.
The ACN had publicly condemned the emergency declaration. “We didn’t need to do any magic. We spoke to ourselves frankly about Nigeria first before party,” Mr. Abaribe said. He said the senate opted for a unanimous decision to protect its members from harm from the “misinformed terrorists”, who may react over the outcome of the senate decision.
The senate also said the president has the powers to deploy troops to any part of the country and did not have to wait for the National Assembly, in response to concerns over why the emergency rule kicked off ahead of the resolution of the National Assembly.