Security Council: Senate divided over Southeast - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Security Council: Senate divided over Southeast

The Senate, Tuesday, ran into a legislative impasse while debating on a motion to reconsider the alleged lopsided appointments into the National Security Council and the National Defence Council by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Most senators from the northern extraction and particularly members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, swifty opposed the tenet and prayers of the motion.

This followed a motion sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh representing Anambra Central senatorial district titled, titled “Urgent need to appoint a representative of the South East into the National Defence Council and the National Security Council”.

In his lead debate, Umeh urged Buhari to reconstitute membership of the Councils, and also appoint an officer from the South East as Service Chief for purposes of equitable representation.

He also cited Section 153(1)(g), more particularly third schedule part 1 of the 1999 Constitution, which states, “The Council shall comprise of the President as the chairman, Vice President as deputy chairman, Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, and such other members as the president may appoint”.

The lawmaker further affirmed, “The exclusion of the South East from appointment of Service Chiefs will continue to cause the feeling of alienation, neglect and consequential agitation among the people of South East.

“The inclusion of the South East among the Service Chiefs will automatically accord them membership of the National Defence Council and National Security Council and will go a long way in assuaging their feelings of isolation and neglect”.

The lawmaker added, “convinced that immediate appointment of an officer from the South East as Service Chief will enhance the feeling of oneness among the South Easterners towards other parts of Nigeria”.

But in his contribution, deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah accused Umeh of, “gross misunderstanding of the provisions of the Constitution on the matter” and warned against politicising security issues in the country.

Further, Na’Allah cautioned the Senate to be extremely careful on its position on the matter and maintained, “it has never been a deliberate policy of any government since 1999 to exclude any section of the country”.

But Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe wondered why Buhari excluded the region from the Council and alleged a misinterpretation of the constitution by the President.

Abaribe said he had, in the past, led the South East caucus in the National Assembly to the President on the matter and alleged, “it’s a deliberate attempt not to include the region as part of the security architecture of this country”.

However, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on seeing the diverse reactions going through ethnic lines, hit the gavel to put the motion on hold.

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