Jonathan, Senate leadership in closed door meeting …lawmakers disagree on emergency rule

By The Citizen

President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the Senate, led by the Senate President, David Mark, on Tuesday met behind closed doors in the Presidential Villa.

Others in the meeting included the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu; Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba; Deputy Leader, Abdul Ningi; and the Minority Leader, George Akume, among others.

None of them spoke with newsmen after the meeting. The meeting came on the hills of some senators kicking against the President's decision to extend the emergency rule declared in three North Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe over the activities of the Boko Haram sect.

At the Tuesday's plenary, majority of Senators disagreed with the fresh request by President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the emergency rule in the three North - Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, over the insurgency situation in the region.

The senate dissolved into a closed - door session to consider Jonathan's letter seeking the extension of the proclamation, for another period of six months, following a motion  by the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma - Egba, who cited order 40 (2) of the Senate standing rule.

The senators reconvened after a two and half hours extensive brainstorming over the issue and announced that the discussion on it would be Wednesday.

A source told THE CITIZEN that the Senators could not agree on granting approval to the request and in order to buy time so that a favorable compromise could be reached, discussion on the matter was moved to tomorrow.

Senate President, David Mark, at the resumption of plenary, said, 'The Senate in a closed session met and discussed the letter from Mr President on the extension of a state of emergency.

'We had a very extensive debate on it. And we will continue with the debate Wednesday.

The Jonathan letter reads in part, 'Extension of the period for the proclamation of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.

'May I respectfully draw your attention to the state of emergency proclamation 2013 in respect of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States which was approved by the National Assembly and extended for a further period of six months by the National Assembly as conveyed by the Clerk of the National Assembly dated 21st of May, 2014.

'By virtue of provisions of Sections 305, (6) C of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the proclamation afore mentioned will elapse after a period of six months from the date of approval of the National Assembly except the period is extended by the National Assembly.

'It is important to state that despite concerted efforts by this administration to stem the tide of terrorism and insurgency in the affected states, the security challenges that necessitated the proclamation are yet to abate.

'Consequently, it has become imperative to request the approval of the senate for extension of the period for the state of emergency for a further period of six months.

'In view of the foregoing, I most respectfully request distinguished senators to consider and approve by resolution the extension of the proclamation of the state of emergency by a further period of six months from the date of expiration of the current period.

'I look forward distinguished Senate President to the usual kind expeditious consideration of the above request by the senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.'

The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs,  Senator Bello Tukur (PDP, Adamawa Central), who briefed journalists after the senate had adjourned,  did not give details of what transpired at the closed-door session.

So it was not absolutely surprising that the close door meeting was held to iron out the issues which could be traced to some Senators intention of returning to the Senate on 2015.