Nigerian Senators to reject emergency extension

By Rafiu Ajakaye, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Nigerian senator has vowed to reject a request by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the emergency rule in three restive northeastern states.

A Nigerian senator has vowed to reject a request by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the emergency rule in three restive northeastern states.

LAGOS – A Nigerian senator has vowed to reject a request by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the emergency rule in three restive northeastern states.

"I don't think we are going to back this request," Senator Ahmed Zannah from the Borno State told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

"Maybe other senators from elsewhere may support it. But we senators from the northeast region are not going to support it," he said.

Jonathan formally asked parliament to extend the current state of emergency in the Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by a six-month period.

But Senator Zannah said that the goodwill the measure once enjoyed had since dwindled.

"There is nothing they can do again that they did not do within the last one year," he said.

"They were given an ample time to perform and if they haven't performed then I think there is no need. Nobody stops them from doing whatever they want to do," the Senator said. "Why the state of emergency? If they want to do their operations, they are free to do it. Nobody (but the president) is in control of the military."

It has yet to be seen, however, whether Jonathan will be able to obtain lawmakers' consent to extend a measure that most observers say has failed to quell an ongoing insurgency in the region.

Lawmakers from the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) are expected to reject the president's request.

The governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe have all come out against the proposal.

Notably, all three governors are affiliated with the opposition.

The state of emergency was initially declared in the three states in May of last year in hopes it would curb an ongoing Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people since 2009.

It is the second time Jonathan has called for extending the state of emergency after making a similar request last November.

Another six-month extension will expire in November, only three months before general elections slated for next February.

Asked to comment on the president's explanation that the military needed some legal cover to prosecute the counterinsurgency campaign, the senator retorted: "Nothing stops them from doing whatever they want to do; whether there is state of emergency or not".

"They are free to search everywhere and everybody knows the urgency of the situation," he said. "Except there is political undertone I do not see any further need for any state of emergency. Let them stop it."

A source within the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) told AA that the forum would mobilize its members to frustrate the measure.

"We don't see any further need for it, and we are mobilizing our colleagues not to back any extension," the source said.

"Rather than help, the measure has not done anything to reduce the attacks. Didn't the insurgents abduct over 200 right under the nose of the soldiers and at a location under curfew and the so-called emergency rule."

Under Nigeria's constitution, the president can declare a state of emergency anywhere in the country in the face of threats to public peace. This, however, requires the approval of the country's 109-member senate.

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