Reps’ Speaker wants confirmation of service chiefs’ appointments retained
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and Defence Headquarters, yesterday, expressed divergent views on the input of the National Assembly in the confirmation of the appointment of service chiefs by the President.
Why Dogara said confirmation was necessary, the Defence Headquarters thought otherwise and advocated the deletion of entire Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act.
The opposing views featured at a public hearing organised by the House Committee on Defence on six different bills on defence related matters, where Dogara recalled a certain judgment of a Federal High Court on the issues of confirmation of service chiefs by the National Assembly.
He said it was dangerous to continue retaining Section 315(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
He said the House of Representatives was considering altering that provision in the ongoing constitution amendment.
The speaker also called for proper equipping and staffing of the Nigeria Police, saying achieving this would enable them tackle contemporary security challenges.
One of the six bills included an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004 to make the appointment of service chiefs subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.
On his call to equip the Nigeria police, Dogara said: “Permit me to once again use the opportunity of this hearing to call for the proper equipping, staffing and training of the Nigeria Police, which is the civil authority designed to protect Nigerians in a democracy in the ordinary course of events.
“The House of Representatives stands ready to play its part working in concert with the Executive branch towards proper funding and support of the Police to play its role.
“The Armed Forces are doing a great job of assisting in maintenance of internal security currently as the Police is ill-equipped, improperly manned and too weak financially to perform its duties.
“ It has also become necessary and urgent to re-examine the current architecture of policing in Nigeria to make it structurally strong and effective.
“We should delete Section 18 in Armed Forces Act—DHQTRS But, Chief of Defence Staff, CDS General Gabriel Olonisakin, who was represented by AVM Ibrahim Shafi, said the position of Defence Headquarters was that Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act should be deleted since it had been covered by Section 218 of the Constitution, saying it was in conflict with the provision of the constitution.”
He said: “Our position is that the entire section 18 of the Armed Forces should be deleted. It is in direct collision course, in conflict with Section 218 of the Constitution. The Armed Forces Act did not provide for the CDS. There is a lacuna which should be amended.”
Also speaking, representative of Chief of Naval Staff and Director, Legal Services, Patrick Nimyel, called for the rotation of the position of the Director-General of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, (DICON), and the position of Chief of Defence Staff among the services.
“The issue of the Chief of Defence Staff should also be rotational among the Service. The appointment should also be tenured.It will help the issue of confirmation,” he said.
In their separate inputs, the Nigeria Police and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF) supported the enactment of the Acts for the office of the National Security Adviser,(NSA) but opined that the creation of another commission was not necessary.
According to the NSA, various areas of lacuna should be identified and filled up instead. In her remarks, the sponsor of the Security Services Welfare Infrastructure Development Commission Bill, Onyemachi Mrakpor, said: “The bill seeks to establish a commission that will be charged with the responsibility of handling the provision of welfare and infrastructure for the services commonly as opposed to the current practice where each service is required to cater for itself