Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate
There was a mild drama at the Senate, on Tuesday, as two lawmakers walked out on the Committee on Army over alleged lopsided recruitment in the Nigerian Army.
The panel had invited the Commandant of Nigerian Army on Training and Doctrine, Major General S.O Olabanji, for an interactive meeting.
But senators Ibrahim Danbaba (PDP, Sokoto) and Barinada Mpigi (PDP, Rivers) staged walkout when they were prevented from grilling the senior Army officer over allegation of lopsided recruitment carried out by the Army recently.
The acting chairman of the committee, Senator Abba Moro (PDP Benue), who presided over the meeting, ruled Danbaba out of order, saying “this meeting is not for such enquiry”.
Another committee member, Senator Barinada Mpigi (PDP, Rivers) raised the issue again, saying “lopsidedeness in recruitment is not an issue to be put aside or ruled against”.
But Senator Moro again ruled against the enquiry, insisting that the session was not for review of recruitment made by the Army but on tactical training and doctrine of men and officers.
“The questions being raised by my colleagues on alleged lopsided recruitments are being thrown to the wrong person. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya is the one who can do justice to such allegation or enquiry,” he said.
Irked by the insistence of Abba Moro that questions on recruitment should not be entertained at the session, Danbaba and Mpigi walked out of the meeting in anger.
Speaking to newsmen after, Senator Danbaba said he walked out of the meeting with Senator Mpigi because of dictatorial action of Senator Moro.
“He shouldn’t have ruled us out of order since the military man the question was directed to did not complain.
“The issue of marginalization in recruitment has never been responded to, it is part of the oversight process of the committee to ensure that whatever is to be done should be done to ensure Justice.
“The Nigerian army like any institution of government in Nigeria is supposed to comply with provisions of the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and that constitution has made it very clear that the issue of federal character and representation is paramount is a constitutional issue.
“I’m not blaming the army, the army has been performing very well, but at the same time the issue of recruitment is very important.
“I left the meeting, I stormed out with Mpigi because we were angry,” he said.
Reacting, Moro said he had no any regret for ruling Danbaba out of order as far as the issue of alleged lopsided recruitment was concerned .
“Danbaba and Mpigi’s questions were directed to a wrong person. What explanation were they expecting from Commander, Training and Doctrine Command on recruitment.
“Besides, the committee had tabled the issue before the Chief of Army Staff few months ago with response bordering on physical and medical reasons for those recruited and those who failed in the exercise.”