Senators Divided Over Bill To Establish Armed Forces Service Commission

A bill that seeks to create an Armed Forces Commission stirred controversy on Wednesday in the Senate as the lawmakers 

It all started when the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe presented the lead debate of a bill for the Establishment of the Armed Forces Commission 2021 for second reading.

The lawmakers were sharply divided over the bill as those against it argued that it will cause more disunity in the country.

Senator Abaribe however noted that the constitution mandates the National Assembly to set up the commission.

The lawmaker noted that the bill “seeks to among other things, address the ‘lopsided appointment’ of heads of security agencies by the president.”

The bill was later rejected during a voice vote and Senator Abaribe called for a division – that is lawmakers should vote individually.

The Senate later went into a closed-door session.

After the closed-door session, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the entire Senate has appealed to the Minority Leader, Senator Abaribe to withdraw Order 73 which called for a division.

Senator Abaribe then withdrew the bill to represent it another day after consultation.

Below are the highlights of the bill:

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 National Assembly shall,

(a) In giving effect to the functions specified in section 217 of the 1999 and

(b) with respect to the powers exercisable by the President under section 218 of the Constitution; establish a body that shall comprise such members as the National Assembly may determine and which shall have the power to ensure that the composition of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects Federal Character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed by section 217 of the Constitution.

The function and powers of the Commission shall be to:

Have the power and authority pursuant to section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to ensure that the composition/appointment of Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects Federal Character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.

Ensure that the functions specified in section 217 of the 1999 Constitution; and the powers exercise by the President in the appointment of Service Chiefs and officers Corps and other Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation in section 218 of the 1999 Constitution reflects the said section.

Recommend to the President from among the best and most qualified, most educated, and most experienced members of the Armed Forces of the Federation for appointment as:

(i) Chief of Defence Staff

(ii) Chief of Army Staff

(iii) Chief of Air Staff

(iv) Chief of Naval Staff

(v) Director of Military Intelligence, and Heads of other Arms-bearing Security Agencies and ensure that such appointments reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria.

Recommend to the President the removal from office as Service Chiefs and Head of other Arm-bearing Security Agencies on grounds of misconduct, abuse of office, breach of any section of the Constitution, the Armed Forces Act, or any other Act of the National Assembly.

Approve promotion from among the best, most competent, and qualified others as Heads of Military formations/branches such as General Officers Commanding Divisions of the Nigerian Army and their equivalent in the Navy and Air Force.

Provided that in making such recommendations the Commission shall observe the Federal Character principle and adopt an equitable template to spread the Offices of the Service Chiefs, and Others Corps and other Ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation among the six 980-p0litical zones of the country.

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