By Ikenna Uwadileke
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the Defence Headquarters on Monday differed on the input of the National Assembly in the confirmation of the appointment of Service Chiefs by the President.
While Dogara said it was necessary, the Defence Headquarters said otherwise, advocating for the deletion of entire Section 18 of the Armed Forces Act.
The opposing viewpoints were expressed at a Public Hearing organised by the House Committee on Defence on six different Bills on Defence related matters.
Dogara recalled a certain judgment of a Federal High Court on the issues of confirmation of Service Chiefs by the National Assembly, saying it was dangerous to entirely dangerous to continue retaining Section 315(2) of the 1999 Constitution.
He said the section stipulates that “The appropriate authority may at any time, by order, make such modifications in the text of any existing law as the appropriate authority considers necessary or expedient to bring that law into conformity with the provisions of this Constitution” in today’s Nigeria.
Dogara said that the House of Representatives was considering altering that provision in the on-going constitutional amendment.
The Speaker also called for proper equipping and staffing of the Nigerian Police, saying achieving this would enable them tackle the contemporary security challenges.
The six Bills seeking to become Acts of Parliament included Bill for 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, (HB.70).
A Bill for an Act to establish the Security Services Welfare Infrastructure Development Commission to provide among other things NG’s, management and review the state of welfare infrastructure of the Security Services and for other matters connected therewith, (HB.83).
A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004 to provide for the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, (HB.149).
A Bill for an Act to repeal the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria Act, Cap. D4, Laws of the Federation, 2004 and enact the Defence Industry Corporation of Nigeria and for other related matters connected therewith, Bill, 2016,(HB.399).
A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of t the Federation, 2004 to among other things provide for specific duties for the Armed Forces Reserve in order to serve as a Rapid Response Mechanism with capacity to intervene in Emergency and Internal Security where the Nigerian Police is overwhelmed, (HB.411).
A Bill for an Act to amend the Armed Forces Act, Cap.A20, Laws of the Federation, 2004 to provide for the Retirement age of Officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces and for other matters connected therewith, (HB.802).
Dogara argued that that the Armed Forces Act was an integral part of the Law as currently in operation; hence, there may be nothing to amend.
“But I will leave it to the wisdom of the Committee to deal with as it deems fit. We must however express our thanks to the sponsor of this Bill for drawing the attention of the House and Nigerians to the issue,’’ he said.
On his part, the 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 Cooperation of Nigeria, DICON and the position of Chief of Defence Staff amongst the Services.
“The issue of the Chief of Defence Statff should also be rotational between the Services; 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 support the enactment of the Acts.
The said that for the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, the creation of another Commission was not necessary, instead, various areas of lacuna should be identified and filled up.
In her remark, the sponsor of the Security Services Welfare Infrastructure Development Commission Bill, Onyemachi Mrakpor said that Bill sought to harmonise welfare service of the security outfits.
“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,” he said.