THE Senate and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) kicked, yesterday, over the militarisation of Odi, Bayelsa State, with the Senate resolving to send a delegation to be led by the Senate Leader, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo to the town on Monday for an on-the-spot assessment.
Soldiers stormed Odi last weekend ostensibly on the trail of the brains behind the recent abduction and murder of 12 policemen in the town.
Senator David Brigidi, sponsor of the motion drew the attention of the Senate to reports that over 500 people had died in Odi on account of the military action, while over 800 women had been evacuated from the community to the Elele Military Cantonment.
Senator Brigidi asked the Senate to restrain the President from deploying troops to the oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta, especially Bayelsa, having regard to Section 217 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
Other prayers in the motion were: "That massive development programme and major civil construction projects that are employment creating should be embarked upon urgently as a sign of governmentâ€ôs goodwill.
"That the executive can win the peace in the area by promoting programmes that reach out to the wounded hearts and minds of the Niger Deltans than spending more to win a war; and that the Senate should set up an ad-hoc committee (delegation) to visit and carry out an on-the-spot assessment of the area."
Senator John Nwannunu in supporting the motion called for the immediate withdrawal of government troops from the community while Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye cautioned against the use of force.
In his contribution, Senator Suleiman Ajadi appealed to the Senate to support the motion and called for the ratification of the Niger Delta Development Commission Bill, expressing the belief that it will assuage the restiveness of the Niger Delta youths.
Senator David Mark threw his weight behind the motion, but advised the Senate to be painstaking in getting into the true picture of the story in Odi community.
All the senators who spoke on the motion supported it and the Senate President, Dr. Okadigbo put it to voice vote with the "ayes" overwhelmingly supporting it.
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) on its part called for the immediate demilitarisation of Odi.
National Chairman of AD, Mallam Mamman Yusuf addressing the Ogun State House of Assembly in Abeokuta shortly after it adopted a motion on the need for a Sovereign National Conference said:
"As far as the AD is concerned the issue of declaration of state of emergency in the Niger Delta area whether latently or manifestly is unconstitutional.
"There is need to demilitarise the Niger Delta area and create a conducive environment for dialogue," he said.
Explaining that the nation had gone through a lot of crisis since 1966, the AD chairman said that it was imperative that the nation must address the issue of true federalism.
He likened Nigeria to the defunct Soviet Union, which he said was a forced amalgamation of several nations with different culture and peoples.
His words: "This is a clear testimony of what happened to Soviet Union. The inability of communism and doctrine of Marxism to force artificial unity.
"The crisis in Niger Delta is a manifestation of irredentism in this country," he declared.
The AD chairman said that with the quest for autonomy, there was the need to come together and define the basis for the federation to avoid the Soviet Union experience.
Apparently throwing his weight behind the call for the state police, Ambassador Yussuf said:
"Community security management should be the primary role of the community.
"I don't know how an Okitipupa man can efficiently manage the security of my local government," he declared.
Ambassador Yussuf told the audience including Gov. Olusegun Osoba and chieftains of the AD that the quality of debate in the house was a true reflection of what Ogun State is.
He said that the AD had never been in doubt of what Nigeria