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APC Senators Block Bill To Make Appointment Of Service Chiefs Independent

Nigerian Senate floor
                               Nigerian Senate floor

The Senate saw some controversy at its session on Wednesday as lawmakers disagreed over the constitutionality of the proposed Armed Forces Service Commission Bill.

The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, proposes that the appointment of the service chiefs will be subject to the recommendations of the proposed commission. 

The bill seeks to establish the Armed Forces Services Commission to ensure that the composition/appointment of service chiefs of the armed forces of the federation reflects the federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

The debate on the bill split the house as senators from the ruling All Progressives Congress opposed the bill.

During a voice vote, the bill was rejected. Senator Abaribe, however, called for a division – that is lawmakers should vote individually.

Mr. Abaribe cited order 73 of the Senate Standing Rule, calling for a division, asking that lawmakers vote individually on the bill.

The Senate later went into a closed-door session, when they emerged, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the house had appealed to Mr. Abaribe to withdraw the dividing order, which he did. 

Mr. Abaribe then withdrew the bill, to present it at another session after consultation.

Appointment of service chiefs has come under critical scrutiny, especially since the assumption of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. 

Mr. Buhari is perceived as a highly sectional leader whose appointment does not ordinarily reflect the diversity of the Nigerian multi-ethnic and multi- religious standing.

There are also complaints that the composition of the National Security Council has over the years been heavily skewed to favour Mr. Buhari’s North.

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