Emergency Rule : House Warns Jonathan Against Use Of States' Funds

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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...Amends Emergency Proclamation Act
ABUJA, May 28, (THEWILL) – As the state of emergency declared in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States entered its second week, the House of Representatives on Tuesday rescinded its decision to allow President Goodluck Jonathan to utilise funds in the affected states for the purpose of security, warning him to hands off the states’ funds instead.

In reaching this decision, the House abrogated Section 3 (2) of the Proclamation, which the Conference Committee approved and was endorsed by both the House and the Senate.

The House therefore deleted the provision and urged the Senate to also concur and adopt the resolution.

The decision was sequel to the adoption of a motion titled: "Need to Amend the Emergency (General) Regulations, 2013 Pursuant to the Emergency Powers Act 1961 and Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Amended” moved by Hon. Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi (PDP Taraba State).

In his lead debate, the lawmaker said by the virtue of Section 305 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended,the President of the Federation has the powers to issue proclamation of a State of Emergency in the Federation or any part thereof subject to the provisions of the Constitution Supra.

El-Sudi added that by Section 305 of the Constitution Supra, President Goodluck Jonathan forwarded a published Official Gazette on the State of Emergency (certain States of the Federation) proclamation, 2013 accompanied with the Emergency Powers (General) Regulations, 2013 both dated 20th day of May, 2013 and that the said regulations were made pursuant to Section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act, No. 1 of 1961 (as modified).

He revealed that the Speaker of the House, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, had briefed the House on the circumstances of the proclamation of a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States of Nigeria by President Jonathan and thereafter made available the documents to the 253 members present as provided by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The lawmaker noted that Tambuwal later announced the appointment of a six-member Conference Committee under the chairmanship of Hon. Albert Tanimu Sam-Tsokwa and the Senate equally set up a five- member Conference Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Ita S. J. Enang to harmonise differences if any.

He explained that the Conference Committee of both Chambers met on Tuesday, 22nd May and considered areas of differences, adopting the Senate version and also adopted clauses 3 (c) and (4) of Senate version of the Emergency Powers (General) Regulation 2013.

According to El-Sudi, the committee further adopted the addition of the words... ‘on Public Order, Peace and Security' and included the House Version of clauses 1, 2 (3), 3(1) and 5 (c) of the Emergency Powers along with the Explanatory Note.

He explained further: “Aware of the fact that Section 3(e) of the transmitted Emergency Powers (General) Regulations 2013 which provides for the utilisation of the funds of any State of Local Government in the Emergency area was unanimously rejected and deleted by the House but retained by the Conference Committee of both Chambers

“Further aware of the public outcry and outright opposition by majority of Nigerians especially indigenes of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States on the content of the above quoted regulation. Mindful of a near consensus of opinion of Senior Advocates of Nigeria and constitutional lawyers across the country regarding the constitutionality of the said section.”

He argued that Section 5(2) of the Emergency Powers Act No. 1 of 1961 (as modified) provides that :

“(2) Any such regulation, order or rule may, without prejudice to the validity of anything lawfully done there under, at anytime be amended or revoked by resolutions passed by both Houses ...”

The lawmaker said he was concerned that the Supreme Court had, in a plethora of decided cases. interpreted the intent and purport of Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federation as amended on the finances of the States and Local Governments of the Federation and on whether Federal Government via National Assembly can validly make laws conferring powers or imposing duties on state functionaries.

“Further encouraged by the need to ensure that our laws, orders, resolutions or regulations are not in conflict with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended or any court decision which we all swore to preserve and protect,” El-Sudi said.

Supporting El-Sudi, the minority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila ( ACN Lagos State), said “The Conference Report has negated every other provisions of the amendment that was done to the Gazette of the emergency proclamation, so this (Section 3 {2}) should be deleted entirely.”

He added that even the Supreme Court can override itself in the face of new evidences on matters.

However, Hon. Chinda Ogundu (PDP Rivers), opposed the motion, saying it is not fair for the House to approve and later re-approve on the declaration, saying in emergency cases, the Constitution is suspended.

On his part, Tambuwal said the House should not be seen to demonstrate institutional arrogance in the face of evidences and submissions of eminent Nigerians that part of the adopted Conference Report was against provisions of the Constitution.

He announced that 191 members were present on the floor and that the number was over the 188 simple majority required to vote on any issue in the chambers.

The House of Representatives is made up of 360 members.

The motion was unanimously adopted when the Speaker put it to vote.