The war against Boko Haram has received a punch by the Amnesty International (AI) which has released a report indicting the Nigerian in which it accused the military of human rights abuses in executing the war against terror. This is just as the United States is foreclosing the possibility of arms sale to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram citing the LEAHY ACT which placed Arms embargo on Nigeria and other countries over poor human rights record during the military era.
This report is seen as a depressant to the morale of the soldiers doing battle but Nigerian Senators have taken exception to the A I report coming on the heels of appointment of new service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari while proposing a parliamentary interface between Nigerian parliament and the U.S Congress to negotiate around the leahy act and lift the ban on the arms embargo placed on Nigeria to facilitate the war on terror. Read:
Senator Rafiu Adebayor Ibrahim, Kwara-South
We can see that President Buhari has started discussion in that regard particularly at his last visit to the United States which was followed up by the U.S Congress men to Nigeria who met other Nigerian government officials. It will be very appropriate for the U.S Congress and the Nigerian Senate to open discussion on this subject at parliamentary level.
I believe Nigeria was lumped and categorized with other countries and if you carry out an analytic review of the fight against insurgency today, Nigeria should be off that list.
Regarding the appointment of new service chiefs, I believe they will deliver; I normally give people benefit of the doubt and these men being chosen by Mr. President who understands the terrain, who knows the job himself as a former military General, I believe his choice should be right and from the caliber of individuals so appointed and based on their interaction with the Senate, we believe they shall do a better job coming from the experience of their predecessors.”
Senator Mohammed Adamu Aliero-Kebbi-Central.
“Let me say that the senate strongly supports Mr. President in his bid to stop insurgency in this country and for that reason whatever move he takes in order to execute this war against insurgency we are behind him, we will give him all the legislative support he requires to ensure that we stamp out insurgency in Nigeria for that reason if he approaches the North-East States and if he brings any request for the purchase of arms we will back him up and we will pass it expeditiously, and if it sending parliamentary delegation to US congress we will do that. The war on terror is a war that must be won and all hands must be on deck to ensure that we win this war, if we don’t win, God forbid, forget about Nigeria.
As per the Service Chiefs, they are well prepared to wage war against insurgency, they are very much combat ready to ensure that we stamp out Boko-Haram and all other forms of insurgency in the country whether in Niger-Delta or in the North Eastern part of Nigeria or even in the Middle-Belt of Nigeria. We are not in doubt of their capability to wage war and stamp out instability in this country. They have all it takes professionally, and the only issue is how to secure arms; and the issue of arms in terms of money, Mr. President has promised he will provide them with the logistics and administrative support.”
Senator Fatimat Raji Rasaki- Ekiti Central
“Well, Nigeria is a democracy just like the United States and both Countries have enjoyed cordial diplomatic ties and as such, it shouldn’t be very difficult to sort these issues out, all things being equal. Secondly, the allegations by the Amnesty International regarding human rights violation by our Armed Forces is unfounded; Nigeria cannot fold its arms and watch disgruntled citizens wage war against it, no way!
Parliamentary collaboration between us can come to the rescue as I propose resources and information sharing and constructive engagement between us; they should assist us in the end and timely so.
Regarding the ability of the newly elected service chiefs, I have no doubt that they will deliver; the chief of Army Staff was my husband’s A D C and very competent, diligent and articulate and knows his job. I think he and others will deliver.”
Senator Theodore Orji- Abia Central
“Those allegations are not verifiable and I don’t believe that the Nigerian Army was involved in such crime. I don’t believe that and many of us do not also believe that except we have verifiable evidence to prove otherwise.
The Nigerian Army does not misuse arms; those who misuse arms are members of the Boko- Haram sect and other terror groups as they source their arms through illicit routes. Every Arms used by the Nigerian Army is legally acquired and used to protect the territorial integrity of our nation and therefore, I would suggest and subscribe to the interface between the Nigerian Senate and the United States Congress to find areas of assistance in terms of lifting the ban on the embargo placed on Nigeria in terms of Arms acquisition and I’ am sure that is one of the issues President Muhammadu Buhari discussed when he went to the United States.
We are interested in that because insurgency is our biggest problem right and you will be surprised that those insurgents have sophisticated weapons and that is why they are progressing in terms of destroying human lives so, if we have superior armament, we will overcome.
As per the newly appointed service chiefs, they are men that have made their marks in their chosen career and diligently chosen by the President and Commander in chief and we believe that they will do well”.
Senator Biodun Olujimi, Ekiti- South, Senatorial District
“I’m sure that the Senate must definitely have input into it. The reason been that the laws are coming from the parliaments of the United States and they cannot come here, and we cannot domicile them except they also go through the parliaments here in Nigeria. And that’s the reason why all we are doing must be properly grounded and grounding means coming to the senate, coming to the National Assembly and laws enacted to make them fully Nigerian and domesticated.
What America is doing now is what they should have done before. Because you see when we are fighting a war like that of the Boko Haram, it’s a war that doesn’t have boarders and it’s a war you are fighting and you don’t see the other person and so they should know that there cannot but be slight infringement but I believe that no Army, not the Nigerian Army would have gone and done anything out of the box in that situation.
Fortunately, we now have service Chiefs they all are very capable; they are young, they are vibrant they have what it takes to do a 3600 return to sanity and we know that they will do it this time around. This time around the Senate is going to do its oversight on every one of them on all the issues so that they keep to their promises to the tenets of the country and also to the spirit of our constitution. I know they will do well and I know that we will compel them to do well for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Olusola Adeyeye: Osun Central, APC:
“When accusation is made against any entity in any part of the world, more so in the U.S.A that entity has a right to defend itself. I’m not aware of the specific charges against the Nigeria Military. I think it is up to the Nigeria military to go to the U.S.A, and defend its own record. If there have been abuses of human rights then quite frankly we should own up to them and correct our behaviour and if there have not been we should deny them and hope that we can produce evidence to debunk whatever accusation have been made against our military.
As to whether or not the US government will prohibit the Nigeria military from getting arms from its own country, that’s their right.
Fortunately they are not the only country in the world that sells arms; what is more important is we as a democracy must aim at preserving every fundamental right of every Nigerian. Whatever is good for the best democracies of the world must be emulated in Nigeria and whatever bad practice too must be owned up. We know that the police in Nigeria daily abuse the rights of Nigerians, so some of these things are also the normal behaviour in Nigeria. That’s my take on it.
As per the appointment of the new service chiefs, any time you bring a new team you must always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If they were asked questions and they answered truthfully and there is no way you can proof that they were not true, if they made promises then all we can do is hope that they will use their professional experience, background and training to live up to those big promises they made. Things have been bad but it does not mean that they will remain bad and not everyone is corrupt. I remember when the late Mohammed Muritala first came to government, most of them where afraid but within the first 3 days of his government, we knew that we were in for a government of change. So let’s pray that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari providing the lead will encourage this people to do what is right for our republic.”
Senator Chukwuka Otaze- Enugu North Senatorial District (PDP)
“What I have to say about the report of the Amnesty International about human rights abuse. I want to say that the abuse of human rights of any kind of people from any part of this country or world over is condemnable and should be condemned; anybody who decides to infringe on the rights of people in the cause of doing jobs that endangers lives instead of saving should be condemned. It should not be allowed in any part of the world especially in this country, especially in the North-East of this country where we are fighting the insurgency of the Boko-Haram.
But coming down home about amnesty international, I take exception to the way they did their job. Sometimes when you just have to give a dog a bad name in other to condemn it, I don’t believe in that because most of the military that worked in the war ravaged area of the North East took a lot of risk doing their job and they are fighting a faceless group of people who they don’t know. It at the cause of their duty they make mistakes because the people they are fighting are not known, they are not in uniform, they don’t have a location, they don’t have address, if such a thing happens in the cause of a warfare, we will have severe causalities in areas and parts of the world where peace-keeping operations have been done, those people have not been hanged; they’ve not been taken to prison but when people come here, and it becomes such an indictment and it’s politically motivated, I refuse to accept such. So, I take it with a pinch of salt and I feel we have to look at it properly on how to get things done.
Yes, I believe that we have an inter-parliamentary association the I.P.U which the National Assembly of this Federation is part and parcel of. I would expect that naturally, there should be an interface between the United State congress and the Senate. Once we form the Defence committee of the Senate, we expect that we are going into that thing properly with a view to addressing it so that nobody suffers unduly and if Nigeria comes around trying to buy arms with which to fight the insurgents whom we don’t even know the people that are arming them to fight this country, United State should be considerate in allowing Nigeria have such arms but once it is done the way it’s been done now, people would read meaning to it because under the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, he approached them; they refused, he made effort to go to South-Africa, they did everything to thwart it, now that we have a Presidency under President Muhammadu Buhari, they are now trying to turn a new leaf and accept that, people will just give interpretation because it’s the same war that Goodluck Jonathan fought and it’s the same war that President Muhammadu Buhari is fighting. If they believe in this fight, it should not be politicized”.
Senator Mallam Wakili- Bauchi-South (APC).
“On the issue of appointment of the Service Chiefs, we found them mostly as professionals, some of them have indicated and shown that they have what it takes to lead the Armed Forces, rejuvenate the Armed Forces to bring about the desired change through their professionalism, through their antecedents, through some action of the plans that they unveiled to the senate. We have no doubt that we shall see some changes as we have started seeing.
If you look at the operation against Boko-Haram, you can see we are making some recoveries of our land, we are making some inroad into the Boko-Haram territory and some of them have been arrested and routed out, so we are very much assured that they can perform to best of their capability depending on the budget.
They have complained that budgetary provisions in terms of arms procurement have been minimal. So we are going to look into all these holistically to see how we are going to reposition the Armed Forces”.
Senate Resumes as anxiety over Saraki fizzles
- 83 Senators pass vote of confidence on him and other principal officers
The palpable anxiety and speculation over the fate of Nigeria Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki heightened but fizzled today as the Senate resumed after about six weeks of annual legislative recess when 83 out of 108 Senators passed a vote of confidence on their President with his Deputy Dr Ike Ekweremadu and other principal officers of the Senate.
Standing in the name of Senator David Umaru-Niger East and pursuant to orders 42 & 52 of the senate standing order 2015, the senate notes that the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended guarantees the separation of powers and the independence of the legislative arm of government.
That the legislative arm of government remains the mainstay of democratic governance, liberty, freedom, fair hearing, checks and balances and above all the protection of human rights of the citizenry.
To focus on matters of national interest and importance to the ordinary people of Nigeria and other issues that will enhance their safety, livelihood, social and political wellbeing.
To continue to perform its constitutional duties and responsibilities in defence of democracy and the rule of law for the betterment and development of our nation Nigeria
With dismay, the attempt and continued interference in the internal affairs of the Senate by detractors and media propaganda against senators, the senate, its leadership by selfish politicians.
The on-going unwarranted embarrassment and aspersions being cast on the senate and its leadership
That the Senate shall not allow itself to be distracted, deterred or succumb to cheap blackmail in the course of carrying out its constitutional responsibilities by any individual or group of people under any pretense or guise for personal political interest.
Affirms its rights to determine its internal affairs
The senate resolved to pass a vote of confidence on the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and the entire Senate leadership.
The motion was a move to spurn the elements behind the ordeal of the Senate President who is standing trial before the Code of Conduct tribunal.
It is recalled that about 9 weeks ago, similar motion was made to shore support for the Senate President who has come under pressure by his party the APC over his ascendancy to the position of the Senate President on inauguration of the 8th Senate.
Read the welcome address by the President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (CON) to Senators of the 8th Senate on resumption from the senate recess on Tuesday, 29th September, 2015.
Distinguished colleagues, I heartily welcome you back from our annual recess. I hope you had a very rewarding time with your families and your constituencies. I also hope that the period of recess has afforded you opportunities to reflect on the enormous task before this Senate in the months ahead. I believe that we have all resumed today with greater vigor and higher commitment to serve our fatherland and serve the cause of democracy. In the face of the great challenges that our country faces on different fronts, which urgently demands our attention, we must be prepared to put in the long extra hours to make up for the precious time we have lost for sundry reasons. As we resume today, we must demonstrate clearly to Nigerians that we are prepared to fulfill our mandates and put Nigeria first in all that we do, no matter how we feel about anything else. To behave contrary will amount to a betrayal of the confidence repose on us by our constituencies and our country as a whole.
Let me seize this moment to register my deep sadness over the death of yet to be determined number of pilgrims who lost their lives in the tragic events happened in Saudi Arabia during this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. May the Almighty Allah grant them eternal salvation and comfort their families. Even though the incident in Mecca has global ramification, we must pursue a Nigerian angle to it. By so doing, we would begin to demonstrate to Nigerians and to the world that Nigeria cares about its people and will take care of its people wherever they may be. Pursuant to this, the Senate shall seek to determine the exact number of Nigerian lives lost in the incidents and through the Federal Government of Nigeria, work with the Saudi authorities to determine the remote and immediate cause of the tragedy with the federal aim of averting such occurrence in the future.
On the 17th of September, 2015, we woke to the shocking news of a military coup in Burkina Faso. This is a monster, which we thought has been wiped off the West African political landscape forever. I therefore, commend the prompt response of the leaders of ECOWAS, not only in unanimously condemning the coup. But in pushing hard to ensure that constitutional order is restored in that country. A threat to democracy anywhere, is a threat to democracy everywhere. We must therefore remain vigilant and leave to no one in doubt that only democratically elected government would be accepted on our Continent and our Sub-region.
During the recess, I attended with some of our colleagues, the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in New York, United States. The high point of that visit for me was the conversation on Boko Haram and mobilization of global support for Nigeria, especially in dealing with the serious challenges of Internally Displaced Persons and the overall development of the North East of our country. I agreed that the significant military success that has been achieved under President Muhammadu Buhari must now be complemented by a robust economic strategy in form of a Global Infrastructure and Development Fund that can deliver the vital services needed by the IDPs today, and the key infrastructure they would need to live a more meaningful and more secured life in the: homes, hospitals, schools and, of course, jobs. Even thought the evolution of Boko Haram has been regional and it is primarily a Nigeria problem; the consequences in human catastrophe implicates the whole of humanity and therefore demands a global scale solution, which can only happen with the support our richest global partners and the biggest companies around the world. The call for Global Infrastructure and Development Fund for the North East of Nigeria, is not only an appeal to our common humanity, but a call for a global platform that would demonstrate to Boko Haram and other terrorist groups everywhere that the whole world is united against them, and will ultimately defeat them.
The biggest challenge face by our country today is the state of our economy. The dwindling oil revenue has brought enormous shock to our economy and greatly limited the capacity of government at various levels to meet even basic commitments. Our country has gone through periods of recession in the past. What we face today is however unprecedented in ramification and potential gravity. We must thing hard and work hard with the Executive to achieve greater clarity in policy direction and interventions. We shall therefore commence immediately, a review of the 2015 budget and begin now to lay down the fundamental principles that would determine the 2016 budget and the philosophy of our economy in times like this. Like I mentioned earlier, legislative agenda must take precedent over all other things in this Senate. I have no doubt that we are all capable of putting in the long hours, but those long hours must be invested primarily, in debating and making the laws that would move our country forward.
We are here to proffer policy solutions and minimize hardship amongst out people. Any other objective must be secondary. The externalized distractions we have had recently have been unhelpful but I am more that ever focused and resolute to the course of our people to provide them leadership that will ease their pain and realize their dreams. It is in view of this that we set for ourselves the legislative agenda committee to help us identify priorities that will have substantial impact on the lives of our people.
In the coming days we shall be considering the report of the committee. Adopt it and immediately begin the implementation of the priorities identified. There will be need to fast track issues not with haste but with deliberate steps and diligence that would deliver results that can stand the test of time.
We promised Nigerians that our actions would positively impact on their lives. This I intend to keep. In that light I will urge you my distinguished colleagues that we make priority the passing of bills that would ultimately and substantially expand our people’s livelihood and opportunities.
As part of our agenda, we shall also be starting the journey to livelihood the E-parliament blueprint. This we believe is a vital precursor to building a strong technology infrastructure that will engender greater public participation in law-making and enable real-time interface between committees in both houses, and between both houses and civil society organizations.
I took opportunity of the recess to undertake tour of the facilities, staff offices, agencies and institutions attached to the National assembly with a view to understanding their various peculiarities and state of readiness to implement and drive the adoption of the E-parliament agenda.
This will see us leapfrog into the ranks of efficient law-making entities able to solve 21st century problems. I believe that this will leapfrog our productivity and make lawmaking in this chamber much more efficient.
As we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the Executive Arm of government and enable us to begin to respond in a more systematic manner to the various economic and social challenges before us, especially through our various Committees that will also be constituted soon. On this not, I want urge you all mu colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country, informed by the enormity and the urgency of the challenges before us. Once the list is submitted let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch. We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking. The enormity of our national challenges at this time does not give room for pettiness or politics or vendetta.
Distinguished Senators, I believe you have all followed with keen interest, my trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. I shall avoid discussing the details of that case here for obvious reasons. But let me say it again, that I am ready and will submit myself to the entire judicial process as provided by law. Meanwhile, I wish to reiterate my remarks before the Tribunal, that I have no iota of doubt that I am on trial today because I am the president of the Nigeria Senate, against the wishes of some powerful individuals outside this Chambers. But what is clear to me also, is that the laws of Nigeria, and the rules of the National Assembly give consideration only to the wishes and desires of those of you who here today as members of the Senate, to elect as you wish, one of your peers a President of the Senate. This in your wisdom is what you have done by electing me to be the first among all of you who are my equals. The laws of Nigeria do not give any consideration to any other forces outside the Senate in the election of its President. And to yield the ground on this note is to be complicit in the subversion of democracy and its core principles of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution. This is why we must once again commend President Muhammadu Buhari, for refusing to interfere in the election of the National Assembly leadership even in the face of enormous pressures on him to do so. He has proven quite concretely that he is indeed a born-again democrat.
Too many people have fought and died for the democracy that we enjoy today. We would not be honoring them and their memories if we allow the sad chapters of our history to continue to repeat themselves like a bad curse. As for me, I am prepared to do my duty in defence of our democracy and in safeguarding the independence of the National Assembly. My duty, as I see it, is to do justice and honour to the memory of those who have paid even higher prices to give us this democracy and this constitution. Primarily as a Senator of the Federal Republic and as Senate President I owe it to this Senate to stand strong in the face of relentless persecution. I invite all of you to stand with me to defend this Senate and preserve its sanctity. Ultimately, our legacies would not be defined by how long we stay here and in whatever position; but by what we did with this great opportunity that our people have given us by the grace of Almighty God.
In the next couple of days, we would be celebrating our 55th Independence Anniversary as country. This is an auspicious moment for us to rededicate ourselves to all that which will advance our nation, move us closer to the dreams of our founding fathers and our attain our destiny as the greatest nation of the black race on the planet. All that we seek for our country is achievable our life time if we all play our part and forsake our old ways. But the least we must do is to ensure that while we are here, we are able to lay the necessary foundation for our children and their children to live a more prosperous life.
Distinguished Senators, once again, I welcome all of you and thank you for your abiding support and confidence in my leadership. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s start our work!- See more at: http://www.senate.gov.ng/en/home-english/325-8th-senate/627-senate-resumes-as-anxiety-over-saraki-fizzles#sthash.fXRRGQV6.dpuf