The National Assembly has slated next Tuesday for deliberations on the state of emergency declared last Tuesday by President Goodluck Jonathan in the three states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
This followed the letter it received Wednesday by the President, seeking the legislature’s approval of the action.
Although, the President’s letter had not been made public, indications that the issue will be debated next Tuesday came yesterday, following announcement on the floor of the Senate by the Senate President, David Mark, before the commencement of yesterday’s plenary, that there was a crucial matter before the Senate for immediate deliberation.
Even as he was evasive about the “crucial matter”,the Senate President tasked all senators to endeavour to be present in next Tuesday’s sitting, saying the urgent issue before the upper legislative chamber could not be handled without the legislators forming a quorum.
”I wish to advise all senators to endeavour to be present in next Tuesday’s sitting. Everybody should try to be present so that we can form a quorum, there is a crucial matter before us,” he said.
He did not, however, mention the subject matter.
Vanguard gathered that the letter to the National Assembly from the President,which was in two copies, addressed to both the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, David Mark and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal respectively, arrived Wednesday afternoon through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Mrs. Joy Emodi.
Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan imposed a state of emergency on the three states Tuesday evening, saying the action was aimed at immediately arresting the deteriorating security situation in the affected states.
Declaring the action, the President directed the Chief of Army Staff to immediately and fully deploy military personnel to the affected states to engage the various militia and terrorist groups responsible for the insecurity and restore normalcy.
Section 305 (6) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) states thus: Subject to the Provisions of this Constitution, the President may by instrument published in the Official-Gazette of the Government of the Federation issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.
It further states that:The President shall immediately after the publication, transmit copies of the Official-Gazette of the Government of the Federation containing the proclamation including the details of the emergency to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President or Speaker, as the case may be, to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the proclamation.
It said: A proclamation issued by the president under this section shall cease to have effect:
(a) If it is revoked by the President by instrument published in the Official-Gazette of the government of the federation.
(a) if it affects any part thereof and within two days when the National Assembly is in session or within ten days when the National Assembly is not in session after its publication, there is no resolution supported by two-thirds majority of all the members of each house of National Assembly approving the Proclamation.
Reacting on why the Senate had not deliberated on the matter, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba,PDP, Cross River Central, said “the constitution is very very clear on this, the National Assembly can only deliberate on the state of emergency declared by the President two days after he had gazetted the action and the President has not gazetted the state of emergency declared last Tuesday.
“Again, the constitution did not clearly spell out the period within which he can gazette the proclamation, so there is no constitution breaches yet unless there is emerging one.”
Asked whether the Senate would consider the deliberation on Tuesday, Ndoma-Egba said as soon as the President gazetted the proclamation, the Senate would consider the issue.
Also speaking on the matter, Senator Dahiru Umar, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, said the constitution mandated National Assembly to only deliberate on the matter after the President had gazetted the document containing the proclamation.
According to him, the delay in handling the issue is still within the ambit of the law.