Tuesday, 19 September 2017

‘IPOB’s Link with Terrorism Remains Unconstitutional, As Lawmakers Backs Jonathan’s Call For Council of State Meeting


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Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki had risen against what he describes as unconstitutional the labeling of indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB)  as a terrorist organisation by the Army and  the  proscription of the group  by the south east governors


In a statement by Saraki to journalists yesterday, he declared that the actions of the military and the Igbo governors did not follow due process and so were unconstitutional.
“Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such a declaration cannot have effect,” Saraki declared.
“I am sure the president will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool,” he said.
The Senate president also condemned the alleged abuse of human rights by the military. “The military should allow themselves to be guided by their training which emphasize  respect for human rights, even in war. Also, giving the nature of this particular situation, the military has every reason to be hesitant in the use of force,” he added.
If this approximates the position of the legislature on the military operations in the Southeast, it reveals once more the widening gap between the executive and the National Assembly on policy issues
To Saraki, government is unnecessarily overstretching the military by deploying soldiers for operations that could have been handled by other security agencies.
“It is my view that we should not overstretch the military. We need to protect our military against dissipation of their fighting strength. And this means we need to strengthen the police and equip them with the capacity to deal with civil crisis. That is why we, in the National Assembly, are already reviewing the Police Act and also looking at the possibility of enabling other para-military agencies to help in curbing civil unrest and maintenance of law and order,” he said.
The Senate president said the National Assembly intended to investigate the military exercise in the south-east. “We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover-up. We intend to lay the facts bare,” he said.
Also, some lawmakers in the National Assembly have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately heed the call by former President Goodluck Jonathan to convene the Council of State meeting so that the issues could be properly addressed.
They blamed the rising agitation in the south- east on the discriminatory appointments made by the Buhari administration since 2015.
Senator Sam Anyanwu (PDP, Imo State), stated that the Council of State meeting was one of the first steps that ought to have been taken.
According to him, President Buhari would have tapped very well from the wisdom of members of the Council of State on how best to address the agitations instead of jumping into it and making grievous mistakes.
Jonathan had last week urged Buhari to convene the meeting, saying his observations indicated that the unrest could become a full-blown conflict if not immediately checked by the country’s leaders.

The president and chairman of the council, vice president as deputy chairman, former presidents and heads of the state, former chief justices, the incumbent president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives, incumbent state governors and the attorney-general of the federation are members of the body.

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