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Senate rejects motion to honour suspected terrorist's father

Senate rejects motion to honour suspected terrorist's father

THE Senate yesterday rejected moves spearheaded by its Deputy President

, Ike Ekweremadu, to prod the Federal Government to give a national award to Dr. Umar Mutallab. Mutallab is the father of Farouk Umar AbdulMutallab, who allegedly attempted to bomb a Detroit, Michigan-bound Delta Airliner on Christmas Day, last year. The Upper Legislative Chamber, however, issued an official commendation to Mutallab for giving out information to security agencies regarding his son's activities. Suggesting an additional prayer to the motion moved by the Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin and nine other senators, Ekweremadu said that it was important that the Federal Government give a national award to Dr. Mutallab for the information he gave out. He said: "Distinguished Senators, I have an additional prayer to this motion. First, I want us to know that many countries are planning to reward Farouk Umar's father (Dr. Mutallab) for the information he gave out to security agencies about his son's activities. It is good that Nigeria take the lead by giving him a national award now. I so move." When the question was put by the Senate President, David Mark, the response was overwhelmingly negative. To clear all doubts, Mark repeated the question, and as the response by the senators against Ekweremadu's prayer became more pronounced, it was roundly defeated. The prayers of the motion that were approved by the Upper Legislative Chamber include: condemnation of the 2009 Christmas Day attempted terrorist act in its totality; urging the executive to take urgent diplomatic steps to have Nigeria removed from the list of terrorist nations; directing the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to open up communications with its counterpart in the United States of America with a view to resolving the problem; commending Umar Farouk's father, Alhaji Mutallab, a frontline Nigerian banker for reporting his son's radical tendencies to the American Embassy and other appropriate security agencies; and urging the Federal Government to investigate what has happened to the information given to the security agencies by the father of Farouk Umar Mutallab on this matter. Debating the motion, senators had taken turns to draw attention to what they called "systemic failures in Nigeria" which ought to be addressed urgently. Joy Emodi (PDP, Anambra North) said: "We are paying a very big price with the image of our country with this terrorist act. It is not true that terrorism is alien to Nigeria. We have had series of terrorist activities in the form of kidnapping, religious crisis and the Niger Delta crisis which have claimed several lives." Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta, "appealed to parents that whenever they are sending their wards to other cultures, particularly during their formative years, they must always keep a close watch or supervision on them." He said it was surprising that Nigeria has failed to deploy its numerous potentials to curb the series of crisis that had emerged in the country. "Americans donated four big body-scanning machines and they are all there at the international airports where they are being used by the NDLEA. Why are they not being deployed for other uses within the airports? Why can't we go beyond that? That's the problem," Kuta said. Joel Danlami Ikenya (PDP, Taraba State) said: "But the USA went too far by classifying Nigeria in the category of terrorist nations; when the U.S. saw Boko Haram in Borno, when they saw it in Bauchi, they concluded that we are like Yemen. The action of Farouk Umar was just the immediate cause of the classification. The truth must be told that as a government, we have not done well in diplomatic relations. Has anybody in Nigeria spoken to the President of America since this event took place? There are problems in this country and we cannot just sit down and keep watching." Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Olorunnimbe Mamora said: "This is a moment for us to look inward; this is the time for sober reflections. With all sense of responsibility and modesty, we have not conducted ourselves in a manner that will warrant respect from the international community because of several events that had happened in this country in the past. We can only therefore appeal to the USA to consider rescinding its decision." Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) simply declared that the saying that Nigeria was the giant of Africa in view of its size and population was not enough to save it from falling if it refuses to address its own inherent problems. "Our largeness in terms of population and size would not be enough to cover up for our systemic failures. For a very long time, Nigeria has no representative in the USA in the form of ambassador. Who is there to pursue matters of diplomatic relations with the USA? Worse still, despite all the terrorists actions that had taken place in the country, nobody has been punished. It is time for soul searching."

Senate rejects motion to honour suspected terrorist's father

By: Olukunle Odebo

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