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Nigeria senate demands military explanation on emergency rule

19 November 2014, 21:27

Abuja - Nigerian senators on Wednesday demanded to hear testimony from top military brass before voting on a government request to extend emergency rule in the restive northeast.

President Goodluck Jonathan has asked for a six-month extension of the special measures to continue an offensive against Boko Haram, but critics say emergency rule has been a complete failure with violence worsening since it was imposed in May last year.

Jonathan submitted the request on Tuesday to the Senate but lawmakers in the upper house have so far refused to vote.

"I believe that we have to wait until we hear from the service chiefs, if they are able to answer our questions then we can take the next step," opposition senator Kabiru Gaya from northern Kano state told journalists.

The speaker of the lower house, Aminu Tambuwal, has called lawmakers from that body back from recess for an emergency vote on the extension expected to be held Thursday.

Also read: Senator urges assistance for Boko Haram victims

The apparent reluctance to sign off on the extension, after two previous requests were approved in November 2013 and in May, highlights the mounting criticism of Jonathan's state of emergency policy.

The insurgents have made major gains over the past 18 months and violence has continued at a relentless pace.

Opposition senators on Tuesday described the strategy as "a failure".

Emergency rule is in force in three northeast states hit hardest by Boko Haram: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

If extended, all three states would be under emergency rule for next February's general election.

The main opposition All Progressives Congress party has warned about the integrity of the overall election result if thousands of people in the affected areas are unable to vote.

The three states are considered an APC stronghold and unlikely to vote for Jonathan.

The head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for Borno, Tukur Sa'ad, said in Maiduguri on Wednesday that voting will take place in only 12 of the state's 27 local government areas.

The areas, which are considered safe from Boko Haram, constitute about 52 percent of the total number of voters registered in the state in 2010, he added.

Measures were also being considered to allow people displaced by the violence to vote, although the process was yet to be finalised, Tukur said.



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