ABUJA, Nigeria – The state of emergency imposed in northeastern Nigeria to crush Boko Haram Islamists has ended, the lower house of parliament said Thursday, announcing that it had rejected a government request to extend the special powers.
The development came on a day that saw police fire tear gas inside the parliament building, apparently targeting the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who defected to the opposition last month.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday asked lawmakers in the lower house and Senate to approve an extension of the 18-month emergency rule in three northeastern states: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
He said the move was needed to sustain the pressure against Boko Haram.
But opposition lawmakers in both chambers have described the emergency rule policy as a failure, with Boko Haram making massive gains since May last year.
“Emergency rule is over as far as we are concerned,” said House of Representatives spokesman Zakaria Mohammed.
He said the president needs approval from both houses of parliament to secure an extension and that members of the lower house resolved that the extension was not merited.
A vote was not taken and the decision came in a closed-door session, as Senate president David Mark ordered the closure of the parliament because of the disturbances inside the complex.
“We have asked the president to rely on Section 8 of the Armed Forces Act which empowers him to deploy the military to trouble spots in the country,” Mohammed added.
“If we have adopted a particular style and it’s not yielding the desired results, we should be able to change course,” he told Agence France-Presse.
Experts have questioned the usefulness of Jonathan’s emergency decree, and the additional powers given to the military to carry out the 18-month offensive have never been spelt out.
The military was operating in all three affected states before the May 2013 declaration, which many saw as an attempt by Jonathan to underscore the severity of the Boko Haram conflict. – Rappler.com