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Senate In Emergency Closed Session Over Armed Forces Bill

by James Davies

Following the controversial ruling by Senate President, Ahmad Lawan on a bill that seeks to create the Armed Forces Service Commission, Lawan has called for an emergency closed-door session during the plenary

The bill, which was sponsored by the Senate Minority Leader,  Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), seeks among others the appointment of service chiefs in line with the federal character based on the recommendations of members of the commission.

The Billis is titled Bill for an Act to give effect to Section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the establishment of the Armed Forces Service Commission and for other related matters, 2021.

Nine senators spoke in favour of the bill while six were against it during a debate that followed Abaribe’s presentation.

Those who supported the proposed law are the Leader of the Senate, Abdullahi Yahaya; the Deputy Minority leader, Emmanuel Bwacha Opeyemi Bamidele; Istifanus Gyang, Chukwuka Utazi; and James Manager.

READ ALSO: Senate Vows To Investigate Alleged Missing $1bn Arms’ Funds

The senators who wanted the bill killed immediately were Francis Alimikhena, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Adamu Aliero, Adamu Abdullahi, Mohammed Bulkachuwa and Danjuma Goje.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, was evasive in his submissions.

Confusion arose when Senate President Ahmad Lawan put the Bill to a voice vote and ruled that the “nays” had the day, meaning that the Bill cannot be read for a second time in what appeared to be a controversial decision.

The sponsor of the Bill, Abaribe raised a point of order to challenge Lawan’s ruling and he called for a division whereby each senator would vote individually.

Lawan opposed Abaribe and his action led to an uproar which made him call for an emergency closed session. The battle of wits was between the opposition People’s Democratic Party senators and their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts.

While supporters of the Bill argued that it was merely to give effect to a constitutional provision that empowers the National Assembly to create the Armed Forces Service Commission, APC Senators in their contribution said that the Bill was targeted at whittling down the powers of the President.

This disagreement by Abaribe was interpreted by some lawmakers as challenging the ruling of the Senate President on the matter.

The development led to a near commotion in the Senate before the Senate President announced that the chamber will go into an emergency closed-door session.


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