The Senate, yesterday, held a closed-door session with the nation’s service chiefs and the Minister of State for Defence, Chief (Mrs) Olusola Obada.
The session was at the instance of the Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence to brief the Senate of the current security situation in the three North-Eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa which came under a state of emergency less than a month ago.
However, only the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim was personally present as all the other service chiefs were represented by top officers from their military formations.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army and Defence, Senator George Sekibo spoke to journalists before they went into the closed-door session, recalling that the Senate had in plenary on May 21, discussed and debated the state of emergency declared by the president in the affected states and accordingly adopted all clauses in the president’s proposal.
“That means that at the end of that date, May 21, the Senate has given its full support for the declaration of the state of emergency in the affected three states. We know that to operate a state of emergency, the Defence Headquarters, and perhaps, all the service chiefs will be involved.
“From that May 21, this committees were given the mandate to closely monitor the progress being made in this declaration and then also, to report back to the Senate. This meeting is part of the fulfilment of that Senate resolution.
“Here present are members of the Senate committee on Defence and Army, chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Senate committees on National Security and Intelligence, the Navy, Air Force and the Police.
“This team would be monitoring the performances and progress being named in the states of emergency in the states. So, this meeting is to get briefing from you from that May 14, when the state of emergency was declared till now, how far have you gone?
“We believe that you have been there for about three weeks. We gave you enough time to master the environment and then invite you to give us the briefings. The briefing might be monthly, except there is an emergency. So after this briefing, we would invite you for another briefing next month.
“This joint committee will also meet and agree when to visit the affected areas. We are not certain about the date, but in the next two weeks or thereabouts, we would meet and take an appropriate date and communicate with you.
“And you will guide us to see the places so that despite the report you are giving to us, we will be able to address the Nigerian people that this is the success we are making,” Sekibo said.
In her response, the Minister of State for Defence explained the absence of the other service chiefs, saying that while the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Celestine Ihejirika was in an official engagement, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ese Oba was on tour of South Africa.
“I will just say a few words and allow the Chief of Defence Staff to brief us on the details. You remember that Section 305 (of the 1999 Constitution as amended) is what has given the legal basis for the pronouncement and subsequent deployment to the three affected states.
“Following the setting up of the various apparatus by the insurgents to create another state for Nigeria and at the long run, probably overrun the military, the Presidency, the National Assembly and take over Nigeria for their own selfish aims.
“Anything that will cause disaffection and disunity in this country would not be tolerated by the president and, indeed, would not be tolerated by Nigerians,” she concluded.