This Day (Lagos)

20 June 2012

Nigeria: Senate Meets Over Mayhem in Kaduna

Resuming from its one-week break yesterday, the Senate was forced to conduct most of its business behind closed door because of the unceasing bloodletting in Kaduna in the aftermath of Sunday's bombing of three churches in the state capital and Zaria.

As soon as the Senate President, Senator David Mark, said the opening prayer, the Senate immediately went into executive session which lasted for almost three hours.

On resumption at exactly 1: 28p.m. Mark said Senate in the executive session took a very robust decision that the current insecurity in the country must not continue.

Briefing newsmen later, the spokesman of the Senate, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said the lawmakers reviewed the situation in the country and had very frank discussions on it.

He said, "We are all aware of what happened over the weekend in Kaduna. The Senate urges all Nigerians not to fall for the obvious attempt to draw Nigerians into religious war. We think the issue of national security is very important because without it we cannot have development and we are going to look at all the dimensions in our coming retreat.

"We also noted that there may be some foreign dimension into it because of the recent arrest of foreign nationals but we acknowledge that we must put our house in order first."

He however dismissed any request for a state of emergency from the presidency in respect of the violence in Kaduna just as he defended President Goodluck Jonathan's journey to Brazil, saying "I believe if we have international obligations we must keep to that obligation".

Abaribe said, "The senate is very worried about the security that is why we have to spend close to three hours in executive session.

"We understand that if you want to have development in the country, you have to first deal with your internal security and therefore, that is why we are doing that in our retreat, we will look at every side and if there is anything we are going to do, be it an amendment of the constitution, we will go ahead and do it to make sure that Nigeria remains one indivisible country.

He said the Senate also noted that there may be some foreign dimensions to the security situation but pointed out that the lawmwkers acknowledged "that we must put our house in order and the senate is in full agreement that all hands must be on deck and that every Nigerian, no matter the level, has a duty to continue to preserve the unity and the structure of Nigeria as it is today".

He said the National Assembly and security agencies are taking the situation very seriously "because we know we can't have development without peace. We can't have infrastructure without peace".

He promised that there will be an interaction with government on the current state of security as soon as possible.

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