The Senate after more than eight hours of marathon closed-door session with the Security and Military Service Chiefs at plenary on Tuesday, decided to defer discussion till today, on whether or not, the State of Emergency which had existed in the North-East for more than one year should be extended.
The emergency rule expired on Thursday without any of the two chambers of the National Assembly giving approval for further extension, making whatever action currently being undertaken by the anti-insurgency forces of the Nigerian Army deficient in legal backing.
The Service Chiefs after briefing the lawmakers on the efforts of the Army so far to contain the insurgency and their logistics handicaps demanded for an immediate extension of the emergency rule to enable the military to prosecute the insurgency war to a successful end.
The Service Chiefs and head of security key agencies who were at the meeting with the Senators were the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Kenneth Minimah; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosun and the Director General of Department of State Security (DSS), Ita Ekpenyong.
However, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Alex Badeh; Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, as well as the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), were not at the meeting.
Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinna Abaribe, while briefing the Senate Correspondents shortly after the session, however described the interaction of the Senators with the Service Chiefs as “ frank and detailed,” adding that they looked into the issues that constitute impediments and challenges the military faced in the war against the insurgency, particularly the budgetary provisions of the force by the government.
“The Senate interacted with the Service Chiefs for more than eight hours. The interaction was very frank and it was very detailed. We looked into what has been the constraint with Nigerian military in dealing with the insurgency. We also looked into the budgetary provision for the military and we looked into what has happened so far in contending the insurgency and I can tell you that the Senate was very impressed with the response from the military.
“And as I said, the military has shown itself to be capable of dealing with the insurgency. The fact that they are capable of dealing with the insurgency means that the Senate will do all in its powers to support the military so that we can bring this insurgency to a quick resolution.
“We also found from their briefing that we have some problems which have to do with troop levels and with the level of equipment and, of course, all the other ancillary problems where you have to fight what is known as asymmetrical war and not a formal conflict and we are very glad that the military is at this moment gearing up itself to be able to deal with asymmetrical war in the North-East of Nigeria. As of today, we have the briefing and we can assure Nigerians that the military is up to the task of dealing with this matter,” Abaribe stated.
On the state of emergency, Abaribe stated that “it was not what was on the table today, saying we are going to wait until it comes up on the plenary and we shall discuss it. What the Senate did today there are two questions.
“Of course, the military continues to insist that they need the state of emergency to be extended to be able to conduct operations in a manner to bring it to quick resolution. When the Senate takes the state of emergency, of course, you will be there because it would be discussed in open plenary,” he told newsmen.
On the inversion of National Assembly last Thursday, Senator Abaribe said, the issue would be discussed today during open plenary, adding “we are going to do it in open plenary.”
Abaribe, speaking on the expiration of emergency rule, cited Section 305 of the Constitution, adding that he was not aware that the president would bring another request for extension to the Senate.
Speaking at plenary after the closed door session, Senate President, David Mark, said the Senate had a “very robust discussion” with the service chiefs, adding that the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe, would brief the press on the outcome of the session.
The lengthy session, he explained, accounted for why the IGP could not appear before the house. “We spent the whole day, we will take the IG tomorrow at plenary. It is not going to be a closed session,” he stated