by Nasir Ayitogo,
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has described as “worrisome”, the deployment of Nigerian soldiers to more than 28 states of the federation in peace time, saying Nigeria is effectively in a permanent state of emergency.
He made this known at a capacity/ Interactive Needs Assessment Workshop of Security Sector Related Committees in the House of Representatives, organised in collaboration with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre.
He said rather than complement civil authorities in maintaining law and order in the country, the Nigerian armed forces have now become civil authorities on their own, carrying out routine duties of police.
Making reference to Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution, the speaker described as alarming, a situation where Nigerian Armed forces are deployed to 28 states despite the country being at peace time.
“It is worrisome that Nigeria is effectively permanently in a state of emergency as the Armed Forces are deployed in more than 28 States of the Federation in peacetime,” the speaker said.
“The Armed Forces have virtually taken over routine Police work in Nigeria. It is no longer acting in aid of civil authorities but has become the civil authority itself.”
“S .217 of the Constitution spells out the duties and responsibilities of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, which includes – defending Nigeria from external aggression; maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity and securing our borders from violation from a Land, Sea or Air; suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President,” he said.
He added that the National Assembly had resolved to ensure that all funds allocated for security purposes were judiciously used and accounted for.
Mr. Dogara acknowledged the security challenges in the country and assured that the House would continue to come up with legislative measures and oversight mechanisms to address such challenges.
“This past experience which saw a powerful military exercise absolute control and authority over the machinery of government has translated to the current challenge of getting these institution to subject itself to legislative scrutiny,” he said.
“The often seen consequence of this is inadequate and inefficient delivery of security to citizens, as well as lack of accountability and transparency as it relates to security expenditure. The House has consequently, recently amended the Public Procurement Act to make the Armed Forces more accountable in procurement matters.”