REPS BACK DEPLOYMENT OF SOLDIERS IN BAYELSA
Opposition's call for the removal of men of the armed forces deployed to Bayelsa State in the wake of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election to pick its gubernatorial candidate for the January 2012 election was stalled yesterday in the House of Representatives.
The Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila who moved the motion under Constitutional Point of Order accused the Federal Government of violating the provisions of Section 217(2b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria (as amended).
He had barely concluded his submission when some members started raising objections by shouting point of order, point of order.
He ignored the point of order and sought the leave of the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal who presided over the plenary to read the Section 217 of the Constitution (as amended).
'The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Section 217 reads that: '(1) There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an army, a Navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the Armed Forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
'(2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of; (a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression; (b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air; (c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.'
Gbajabiamila therefore argued further that the deployment of troops, which had led to the militarization of the oil-state was a clear violation of the Constitution as there was no due consultation made with the National Assembly before the deployment.
For purpose of clarity and to guide the House, Speaker Waziri Tambuwal asked the Minority Leader to read Section 218, to which he (Gbajamiala) obliged, and continued that: 'the powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the armed forces of the Federation.
'(2) The powers conferred on the President by subsection (1) of this section shall include power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.
'(3) The President may, by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as he thinks fit, delegate to any member of the armed forces of the Federation his powers relating to the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
'(4) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the regulation of; (a) the powers exercisable by the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation; and (b) the appointment, promotion and disciplinary control of members of the armed forces of the Federation.
At the conclusion of reading the relevant sections, the Speaker put the motion to vote on whether it was much of public importance to be debated by the House, and members unanimously voted no.
Tambuwal however urged the Federal government to guard against such constitutional breach, as both Houses of the National Assembly were not consulted before the deployment.