No fewer than 200 civil society organizations, on Tuesday, unanimously rejected the proposed Armed Forces Commission Bill, describing it as an “invitation to anarchy”.
Led by Comrade Ogenyi Okpokwu, the double century CSOs, under the aegis of Parliament Watch, made its stand known at the end of a one-day Town Hall meeting at the Confereence Hall, Top Rank Hotel, Abuja.
In a communique signed by Comrade Danelsi Momoh, Comrade Kabir Dallah and two others, the CSOs said the National Assembly have not shown interest of the nation at heart after the bill scaled first reading on the floor.
The bill, according to the group, is “retrogressive and an attempt to undermine the powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces”.
The CSOs further resolved that the NASS is acting against the interest of the country and heating up the polity for anarchy.
Having exhaustively analysed the said bill, the Parliament Watch concluded that it is “not in the overall interest of Nigeria and as such it is unacceptable for lacking in merit in its entirety”.
It, however, warned the NASS to avoid undermining the office of the President, the nation’s constitution and a reverend institution like the Armed Forces.
Read full communique below:
The Parliamentary Watch is a Civil Society Organization that is devoted to the preservation of emerging democracies through the contributions of the parliament in Nation Building. It has, over the years, monitored the parliament and made tangible interventions in times of critical concern as it relates to issues of National Interest.
The Parliamentary Watch as an organization has continuously kept the parliamentary arm of government in check through numerous advocacies that have, over the years, entrenched our nascent democracy with the overarching objective of ensuring that our parliamentarians stay through to the ideals of democracy.
The Issues and Deliberations:
The Parliamentary Watch at its one-day town hall meeting deliberated on the activities of the National Assembly with regards to the robustness of its deliberations vis-à-vis the introduction and passage of bills that are of national concern.
There was an extensive deliberation of some of the new bills introduced by the National Assembly, and the impact such bills, when passed into law, would have on the overall wellbeing of the country.
One such Bill that attracted the attention of the members in attendance is the “Armed Forces Service Commission (Est.) Bill 2020 (SB 362)”. According to the Bill, the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Director of Military Intelligence and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies shall be appointed subject to recommendations by the Senate.
The Bill is advocating that the Armed Forces Service Commission shall have the power to approve the promotion of officers as heads of military formations/branches such as General Officers Commanding Divisions of the Nigerian Army and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force, amongst a host of others.
The Parliamentary Watch after extensive deliberations came up with the following resolutions:
Members of the Parliamentary Watch unanimously agreed that the National Assembly has not proven that it has the interest of Nigeria at heart with the Bill slated for Second reading of the floor.
That the proposed Armed Forces Service Commission bill is retrogressive and an attempt to undermine the powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as stipulated in Chapter Six, Section 2 (1) (2)
That the National Assembly is strategically acting against the interest of Nigeria by playing to the gallery in an attempt to arrogant executive powers to itself.
That Armed Forces Service Commission Bill is a call for anarchy in Nigeria and to subject Nigeria to public ridicule among the comity of Nations.
That Bill is an affront to the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
That the Armed Forces Service Commission bill lacks merit in its conceptualization and its provisions are against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an attempt to rewrite history through unconventional means.
That the National Assembly through the proposed Armed Forces Service Commission Bill is attempting to reduce Nigeria to a Banana republic where they can subject their whims and caprices on Nigerians unpatriotically.
The Parliamentary Watch at the end of the one-day town hall meeting convoked to assess the merit and demerits of the proposed Armed Forces Service Commission as a result of this concludes that the Bill is not in the overall interest of Nigeria as a country and as such it is unacceptable for lacking in merit in its entirety for the following reasons:
That the Armed Forces as a highly sensitive and strategic institution constitutionally mandated to defend Nigeria from external aggression and maintaining its territorial integrity and sovereignty should not and cannot be subjected to the whims and caprices of politicians and against National Interest.
That Section 218 Subsection 1 and 2 expressly states that “the powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall include power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation; (2) power to appoint the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and heads of any other branches of the Armed Forces of Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly.”
The Parliamentary Watch herby makes the following recommendations:
That the National Assembly must save its face from this despicable attempt at usurping the powers of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces with regards to the appointment of Service Chiefs in the country.
That the National Assembly must desist from the attempt to destroy a strategic National and Professional Asset that has stood the test of time since the creation of Nigeria.
That the National Assembly must not lose sight of its functions as clearly spelled out in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and which must align with the strategic goals of ensuring growth and sustainable development
That the National Assembly must realize that its role in the Nigerian setting is to enact laws that would serve the overall interest of the country and not bills that suit their purpose and fulfills their desires and interests.
That the Armed Forces must not be dragged into politics as it is critically engaged in sensitive internal security assignments that requires all level of concentration in the light of the politically sponsored security challenges in the country.