From Fred Itua, Abuja
There was an uproar, ethnic sentiments and use of unparliamentary languages on the floor of the Senate, yesterday.
The scenario was caused when the Senate threw out a Bill which seeks to establish the Armed Forces Commission as stipulated in Section 219 of the constitution that charges the National Assembly to pass an Act to establish such a commission.
Sponsored by Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Bill is entitled: “A Bill for an Act to give effect to Section 219 of the 1999 Constitution to provide for the establishment of the Armed Forces Service Commission and for other related matters, 2021.”
The Bill was read for the first time a year ago before the National Assembly was shutdown following the global outbreak of COVID-19.
However, during the debate on the general principles of the Bill to pave way for its second reading, many senators from the North with the exception of Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, raised objections to the Bill while thise from the south spoke in support.
When the question was put as to whether the Bill should be allowed to pass the second reading stage, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, ruled in favour of those who spoke against the Bill and declared that the Bill had failed.
But, Abaribe swiftly rose to protest and raised Order 73 of the Senate standing rule through which he called for division to allow senators openly vote in turns for or against the Bill.
There were shouts of no! no!! among the opponents of the Bill. In the rowdiness that ensued, the Senate president after about two minutes called for a close session. After the closed session that lasted about 20 minutes, Lawan announced that Abaribe had agreed to withdraw his opposition to the ruling that nailed the Bill.
Abaribe was given the opportunity to confirm that he withdrew his protest.
The Senate Minority Leader formally withdrew his protest and announced he had stepped down the entire Bill.
According to the Bill, the appointment of chief of defence staff, chief of army staff, chief of air staff, chief of naval staff, director of military intelligence and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies, shall be appointed, subject to recommendations by the commission.