Senate In Closed Door Meeting With Service Chiefs

national assenbly_nigerianeyeDespite the expiration of emergency rule in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states, the Senate has gone into a closed door meeting with service chiefs to discuss the extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states.

The service chiefs present at the meeting are the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah and the Director General of the Department of State Security, Mr Ita Ekpenyong.

The Senate has been considering President Jonathan’s request for a further extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states.

The service chiefs were to brief the Senate last week Thursday but were unable to do so because of the security crises in the National Assembly.

The Inspector General of Police is also expected to appear before the Senate at plenary to explain why the police invaded the National Assembly last week Thursday, using tear gas on Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.

Senate In Clossed Door Session To Deliberate On Emergency Rule For Day Two

Nigeria Army.The Senate has gone into a closed door meeting to discuss President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for an extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in his letter to the Senate, explained that despite concerted efforts by his administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation of state of emergency were yet to abate.

After the letter had been read on Tuesday by the Senate President, David Mark, the lawmakers went into a closed-door meeting to discuss the President’s request.

About one and a half hours later, it was obvious that the Senate had not reached an agreement on the matter as the Senate President announced that the discussion would continue on Wednesday.

The Senators where unable to reach an agreement on the matter as some northern lawmakers particularly those from Yobe and Borno states were opposed to the extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states.

The northern lawmakers were opposed to the extension of emergency rule on the grounds that the extension had not helped to curb terrorism in the region.

Today’s meeting marks the second day in a row where the Senators are discussing the extension of emergency rule behind close doors.


Nigerian Senate Divided Over Extension Of Emergency Rule

SenateFederal lawmakers in the Senate were sharply divided on Tuesday over the Nigerian President’s request for the extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in his letter to the Senate, explained that despite concerted efforts by his administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation of state of emergency were yet to abate.

After the letter had been read by the Senate President, David Mark, the lawmakers went into a closed-door meeting to discuss the President’s request.

About one and a half hours later, it was obvious that the Senate had not reached an agreement on the matter as the Senate President announced that the discussion would continue on Wednesday.

Some northern lawmakers who spoke to journalists after the Senate proceedings, opposed the extension of emergency rule, saying it has not helped to confront terrorism in the northern part of the country.

Ahmed Lawan of the APC from Yobe State said, “I am totally opposed to it, I believe that after 18 months of the operation of the state of emergency, we should look at another avenue.

“If you have tried something for 18 months and you’re not getting the results, each time you take a dosage of your medication you get worse, it would be stupid of you to continue to take the same dosage.”

Ali Ndume of the PDP from Borno State also said that the people of his state were “clearly against the extension” as it restricts their movement and “allows the insurgents to move freely”.

He added, “The constitution does not restrict the President from deploying troops without necessarily declaring state of emergency.”

The last time President Jonathan made similar request, the lawmakers did not readily approve the extension but eventually acceded to the President’s request after making some demands.

The demands include proper kitting and equipping of troops deployed to tackle the insurgency as well as recruitment of screened and vetted youths into the armed forces.

Senate Summons Service Chiefs Over Potiskum School Bombing

Senate_NigeriaThe Nigerian Senate has summoned Service Chiefs over Monday’s bomb blast at the Government Technical Science College in Potiskum, Yobe State.

Issuing the summon on Wednesday, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence, Senator George Sekibo said that the Service Chiefs were expected to give the committee an inventory of the military hardware procured to fight the insurgents.

The summon is coming two days after the attack that had left the people of the area in fear. Over 30 persons were killed in the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

Schools in the area have been closed down as a result of the attack and as a measure to prevent further attacks.

Some of the children have already been buried, leaving loved ones with thoughts of why their children became victims of a senseless killing.

The government has offered no answers, but the Senate President, David Mark, said the government needed to declare total war on the Boko Haram terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.

Attacks continue

The military chiefs are expected to brief the Senate Committee on why senseless killings had continued in states under emergency rule – Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

Senator Sekibo said the Senate was worried that members of the Boko Haram group, suspected to have carried out the Potiskum attack, were targeting schools in the north.

In less than a month, the extension of emergency rule would expire in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and its not clear at the moment if President Goodluck Jonathan would ask for further extension of the emergency rule.

But what is obvious is that despite the state of emergency in the three north eastern states, killings, bombings and terrorists activities have showed no signs of abating.

The attacks have continued even after the Nigerian government said it had reached a ceasefire deal with the Boko Haram group, a truce some Elders in Borno State expressed doubts that it was reached with the right leadership of the terrorist group.

Senate Approves Extension Of Emergency Rule With Demands

senateThe Nigerian Senate has approved the extension of emergency rule in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states for another six months.

The northern lawmakers who had last week vehemently opposed the extension of the emergency rule made a U-turn on Tuesday and supported the extension of the State of Emergency.

The Senate, while supporting the extension of emergency rule in the three northern states, made some demands on the Executive.

They include proper kitting and arming of the Armed Forces deployed to arrest insurgency and adequate welfare for the troops, as well as special recruitment into the Armed Forces, of screened and vetted youths, particularly those in the civilian JTF.

Other demands made were that the service chiefs, the Minister of Defence, Minister of Police Affairs, National Security Adviser and DG, Directorate of State Service (DSS) should report to the Senate on a monthly basis to brief lawmakers on progress made in combating the insurgency.

The Senate also asked President Jonathan to prepare and submit to the National Assembly, a supplementary budget to meet any financial requirement needed to combat the insurgency.

Senate Sets-aside Debate On State Of Emergency, Summons Service Chiefs

SenateThe Senate has stepped down the debate on the extension of emergency rule in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

President Goodluck Jonathan had sent a request to the National Assembly seeking an extension of the state of emergency in Nigeria’s north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe by six months.

The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba, who was to move the motion for the extension of the emergency rule in the three states asked federal lawmakers to step down the debate until another day, to allow the senate review the success or otherwise of the emergency rule which has been in effect since May 2013.

To this end, the senate has summoned the service chiefs and the ministers of defense and police affairs to appear before lawmakers at plenary to explain the security situation in the three North Eastern states.


Fighting Insecurity: Governor Nyako’s Utterances Were Out Of Frustration – Othman

OthmanA Public Affairs Analyst, Mahmood Othman, believes that the National Security Council meeting held in Abuja on Thursday was long overdue, considering the security situation in Nigeria.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise daily on Friday, he said that he did not expect that the leadership of the country would have waited to be put under such pressure before taking drastic steps to address the situation.

He, however, noted that one of the issues he had with the resolution was what he saw as a stifling of Freedom of Expression, as he believed that Governor Nyako of Adamawa State’s condemnation was overdone.

He shared the view that as a former Chief of Naval Staff, and Governor who is on the ground, Nyako must have cogent justification for what he was saying about the terrorist activities in the Northeast and he expected that those information would be taken seriously rather than being treated as being political.

On the use of the word “Genocide” which has been seen as a strong word that could cause uproar, he said that this was a product of frustration as there had been no proper communication. More so, English was not Nigeria’s primary language and just his choice of word should not be used as an excuse to discard his views, some of which may be valid and useful in finding solution.

He said that it was normal for the State Governor to be frustrated because no one would expect that after the attack on a secondary school in Buni Yadi in Yobe State, another school in the region would have its students abducted by terrorists.

Speaking about the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Othman said that allowing the school to be opened at the time was naïve, as he expected that all schools in the state would have been closed.

While explanations have been provided for the presence of the girls in school, he wondered why adequate security had not been provided for the girls, he insisted that the spate of attacks in the past and in recent times were enough to prepare the state for such possibilities.

He also berated the security agencies in the state for allowing the incident of the abduction to happen. He wondered how so many people would sneak into a state under Emergency Rule, dressed like military men and the real military personnel were unable to identify the impending danger.

He said that there were no excuses for Nigeria not to be able to protect its territory, claiming that there were no specific borders along the boundaries of Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the Northeast. The forests, according to him were accessible and should be secured.

Mr. Othman expects that the quality of communication between security agencies should be upgraded to standard as has been recommended by many concerned Nigerians, but so should the communication between governments of states, the local governments, and between the Federal Government and the states.

He added that state governments should be listened to and taken seriously in the quest to end insurgency as they were major stakeholders in the matter having invested a lot of resources in empowering the Police, and having also been at the receiving end of the terrorist attacks.

Mr. Othman, who is also a delegate at the National Conference, offered his view on the makeup and happenings at the conference. He said that the conference had been a mix of different shades of people and ideas; while some were good, some were bizarre.

Pointing out the attitude of delegates to time keeping, and double standards in giving audience to delegates, among the issues he was most unhappy with, he said that the delegates had, however, started calming down as the committees were being set up.

He also said that the few young people present at the conference were learning the ropes, explaining that he could identify with the youthful exuberance being displayed by the youths who had been complaining of not being carried along. He added that what remained most important was the outcome of the entire exercise, and how to make it beneficial to the continued unity of Nigeria.


Shekarau Backs Postponement Of Elections In North East

Former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau
Former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau

Former Governor of Kano State, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who recently defected to the PDP from the APC, has been reacting to the recent pronouncement by the governors from the North East under emergency rule that elections should be held in 2015 in those state.

Ibrahim Shekarau, who was in the Presidential Villa, where he held a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, told state house correspondents that election can be put off in any area that poses a threat to the lives of Nigerians.

According to him, although people should be allowed to decide their fate, that does not necessarily mean that elections should be held under a volatile situation.

He wondered why anybody should be spitting fire over the situation, insisting that both the governors from the North East and the Federal Government should join hands to address the situation in the interest of the people they want to govern.

JTF Imposes 24 Hour Curfew In Potiskum

Barely two days to the Muslim ed-el –ftr Sallah celebration, the Military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe state has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the troubled commercial town of the state.

A statement made available to journalists by the JTF spokesman, Captain Eli Lazarus said the curfew commences from 5th of August 2013 and enjoined residents to remain calm and cooperate with security agencies by remaining indoors until the curfew is lifted.

“The Joint Task Force announces the imposition of 24 hour curfew in Potiskum commencing from today (6th) August 2013

“Residents of Potiskum town are enjoined to remain calm and cooperate with security agencies until the curfew is lifted”

It will be recalled that Yobe state has long being under a dusk to dawn curfew as a strategy to curb the activities of the insurgents and the time got reviewed between the hours of 10:00PM to 6:00 AM daily just a week ago.

Potiskum has over the years remained one of the flash points of the radical Islamists, Boko Haram, since the commencement of the insurgency.

Early this year, the entire state had remained under 24 hour curfew for three days as a measure to trap the sect in their hideouts with the aim of recovering arms and ammunition, a style that has always caused clash between the sect members and security forces.

Military troops were sighted in their hundreds along Maiduguri-Damaturu-Potiskum road hours before the announcement of the curfew was made.

Emergency Rule: Presidency Says Al-Jazeera’s Report On Civilian Casualties Is Misleading

The Presidency has re-affirmed that the Emergency rule currently imposed on Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states is meant to protect the civilian and the territory from the assault b on the Nigerian state by insurgents and terrorists.

This re-affirmation comes on the heels of a special report by Aljazeera (see the report here) which indicates that large numbers of civilians have been caught in the cross-fire between military forces and insurgents but reacting to the widely televised report in a statement, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati stated that the report on state of emergency and “civilian casualties” is contrived and misleading.

The statement reads:

We view with grave concern, the attempt by sections of the media, especially the foreign media to mislead the general public and the international community about the on-going State of Emergency and military operations in three states of the Federation: Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. For the avoidance of doubt, the declaration of a state of emergency and the consequential security operations are meant to protect the civilian population and the territory from the macabre and dastardly assault on the Nigerian state by insurgents and terrorists. It is not an operation against innocent citizens as Al-Jazeera and others are suggesting.

In executing this sovereign objective, President Jonathan explicitly directed that the operations be conducted in line with applicable rules of engagement and peculiar care in managing a unique situation. In an earlier statement, he had also made it clear to the military high command and received assurances that those who violate their operational orders will be disciplined accordingly. In line with this regard for the rights of the civilian population, the President Jonathan had ordered the release of women and under-aged persons in protective custody, and made arrangements for their immediate rehabilitation. Fifty eight persons in this category have been released.

The Armed Forces have also secured the release of six women and children in Boko Haram captivity. There is nothing to suggest so far any violation of operational orders by the troops operating in the North East. Their intervention has received popular support, among the civilian populace, and within two weeks of operation, the possibility of calm and normalcy resonates even as enclaves of terrorists are raided and their capacity to continue their reign of terror heavily compromised. This is a process and the Government owes it to the people of the North-East to see it through.

The Jonathan administration believes that media reporting of the reality of living in a state of emergency is needed to keep the local and international community well informed and to hold accountable those prosecuting the military operation to help build trust and sustain the public support needed to build lasting peace.

Rather curiously however, the last two weeks have witnessed mischievous attempts by a section of the media to generate negative propaganda around these operations in the North East. Most recently, a video report by Al-Jazeera yesterday titled “Civilians among dead in Nigeria offensive” (May 31) sought to put the government and the people of Nigeria in bad light. This is regrettable. While we welcome an open interrogation of government’s activities, we reject any attempt to exploit the security situation in the North East to malign, discredit or otherwise undermine the country’s efforts by other surreptitious means. There can be no doubt that the Al Jazeera report of May 31 is in very bad taste.

Two quick points will highlight the concerns here: (1) the video is that of the unfortunate incident that occurred in Bama on May 7 and has no connection with the current operation. If anything, the victims shown in the video were those the Boko Haram attacked before they launched an offensive on the Bama prison (2) the claim that the man in uniform shown in the video is a Nigerian soldier cannot be sustained, because in a war-like theater as we have on our hands, anybody could have been clad in a military fatigue; and we have seen Boko Haram members appear in military fatigues in their propaganda videos. Besides, no soldier has left the frontlines since the beginning of the operations. Surely, this type of reporting on a serious national security issue is irresponsible and should be deplored by all.

We reaffirm the Government of Nigeria’s commitment to and belief in the professionalism of the Nigerian Military, an institution that has served with distinction on many occasions across the region and outside. We deplore the effort to encourage terrorists through unverified and inaccurate reporting, and the desperation to blackmail the current peace and security process.

State Of Emergency: Adamawa Reduces Working Hours For Civil Servants

The Adamawa Government on Tuesday reduced official working hours in the state by one hour, to ease the difficulties civil servants face since it imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

The Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako

The 6pm-to-6am curfew was imposed last Wednesday to reinforce the current State of Emergency in the state.

The Secretary to the State Government, Kobis Aris,  said workers would now close at 3pm.

He explained in a statement: “Sequel to the declaration of state of emergency in the state by President, Commander-In-Chief and the imposition of 6am to 6pm curfew in the state, civil servants find it difficult to reach home before 6pm.

“Consequently, Governor Murtala Nyako has approved that the state civil service official working hours be adjusted from 8:00 am to 3:00 p.m during the time of the curfew,” it said.

The statement added that the governor was holding consultations with various stakeholders in the state to generate support on the current security situation and ensure the restoration of peace and stability.

JTF Set To Release Boko Haram Suspects From Detention

Consequent upon the directive of the President, the Defence Headquarters is to release from detention a number of persons being held in connection with terrorist activities in Nigeria.

The defence spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade

The move, according to the defence spokesman, Brigadier-General Chris Olukolade, is in furtherance of the Federal Government’s position regarding the requests by the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Reconciliation.

He said the measure which is in line with President Goodluck Jonathan’s magnanimity to enhance peace efforts in the country, will result in freedom for suspects including all women in custody.

The army spokesman said the details of the directives and those to benefit from this gesture have been communicated to field units and the Joint Task Force.

He said the beneficiaries will be released to the state governors who will be involved in further rehabilitation before these suspects are released to their respective community leaders and relatives.