A bill that would have conferred on the National Assembly the power to appoint and sack Service Chiefs has been rejected by the Senate on Wednesday.
The Bill for an Act to establish Armed Forces Service Commission caused a heated debate among the lawmakers during the plenary.
The Bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia), seeks to empower the National Assembly to recommend to the President the best and most qualified of the Armed Forces of the Federation for appointment as Service Chiefs, and as well their removal on grounds of misconduct.
Some supporters of the bill argued that it is founded on solid constitutional principles, advising the Senate to exercise its constitutional powers.
The opposing faction of the lawmakers believed that forming the Commission would politicize the armed forces, posing a threat to the country’s stability and unity.
After a heated debate, the Senate President Ahmad Lawan put the bill to a voice vote and “the nays had it”.
Apparently angered by the development, Mr Abaribe rose quickly and invoked Senate Order 73, which states that every Senator can appeal the presiding officer’s decision.
He, therefore, demanded that the bill be put to a vote.
The Senate went into closed session after about seven minutes’ hiatus.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting, the Senate President said: “We have appealed to the Minority Leader to withdraw the standing Order 73 and of course the Minority Leader and any senator here will have the opportunity to look into that Bill in the future for more consultations…”
“so that variety of ideas referring to the constitution of the Bill will be such that when it comes, we should have a jet speed passage and I believe that this is something we are used to in parliament.”
“So I will invite the Minority Leader, having heard our appeal that we don’t have to go into the ruling of the Order he raised. We can do without it & an opportunity will be available for him to represent this bill better after due consultations with colleagues here.”
In response Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, “In order to preserve the dignity of this Chamber, I wish to withdraw my Order 73 and for us to be able to do further consideration of the Bill, I wish to also step down the Consideration of this Bill.”