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State of emergency: Senate suspends debate, summons security chiefs

By The Citizen
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The Senate on Wednesday suspended debate on request of President Goodluck Jonathan, seeking an extension of the state of emergency declared on three states in the North-East about a year ago but passed a resolution, summoning the security chiefs.

Those summoned are the Minister of Defence, his colleague in the Police Affairs Ministry, the Chief of Defence Staff, National Security Adviser, the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, to appear before it on Thursday.

Senate leader, Sentator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who was to move the motion for the extension of the emergency rule in the affected states, urged members to allow the item be stepped down in the order paper till the next legislative session.

He said his reasons was based on the fact that the aspect of the constitution dealing with emergency rule declaration has not been gazetted for circulation in the upper chamber and the fact that the senate had yet to review the success or otherwise of the emergency rule which had been in place for one year.

'We must circulate the gazette before we can debate it. Secondly, it is the tradition of this senate that we appraise and access, the performance of the state of emergency before we debate.

'I therefore move that the distinguished senate do invite the Chief of Army staff, the Chief of Naval staff, Chief of Air staff, and the Inspector General of police to brief us in a close session to enable us to commence debate on the President's request,' he said.

Senator James Manager, who seconded the motion, however stressed the need to invite the service chiefs but that since they were under some authorities, it would be necessary to amend the motion by adding the National Security Adviser, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Police Affairs.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, described the motion as 'a very serious business which bothers on the security of a part of this country.'

He noted that it was essential that the senate be well informed about the situation on ground and the efficiency or the effectiveness of the state of emergency in the past 12 months to enable them take a proper decision.

He therefore appealed that in accordance with the motion moved by the senate leader, the item be stepped down till Thursday.

Recall that Jonathan had on Tuesday asked the Senate to approve the extension of the one year old state of emergency in the troubled states in the North-East region of the country because of the growing activities of the insurgents in the area.