Dogara: Nigeria is effectively in a state of emergency

Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, says it is worrisome that army is now carrying out duties of police.

He said the country is in a permanent state of emergency as a result of the situation.

Dogara said this on Monday while speaking at an interactive session on security organised by the house in collaboration with Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC).

Citing section 217 of the constitution which spelt out the functions of the military, the speaker noted that the army was no longer aiding civil authorities “but has become the civil authority itself”.

“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,” Dogara 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.

“Section 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 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 stressed that the national assembly would continue to make sure that funds appropriated for security purposes were judiciously spent.

The speaker also said the house had amended the public procurement act to make the army more accountable on matters involving procurement.

“Related to the constitutional powers of the national assembly to appropriate funds and thereby allocate funds for security is the power to ensure that such monies or funds appropriated are used in a transparent and accountable manner and for the purpose for which they have been given,” he said.

“The national assembly’s powers of legislative oversight cannot therefore be over emphasised. At the inception of the 8th House of Representatives in 2015, we adopted a Legislative Agenda to guide the work of the House and therein, committed to taking legislative initiatives to respond to the various security challenges being faced by the country.

“In the same agenda, we committed to taking further measures to improve on our oversight process and mechanisms, which is one of the major themes that would be discussed today. Our presence here today underscores our commitment to this goal.

“We have made efforts by trying to meet the budgetary needs of the security sector, and it is indeed, a fact that the security sector receives a major allocation in the country’s annual budget. This is borne out of the need to respond to the insurgency in the north-eastern part of the country, as well as various security challenges such as kidnapping, armed robbery etc. in other parts of the country.”