9th September, 2011
Senator Gyang Dantong has described as â€œrecklessâ€, the call by Senator Kabir Gaya, asking the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in troubled Plateau.
â€œI was surprised and disappointed by that statement, which I considered unsenatorial,â€ Dantong, who represents Plateau North, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Jos.
Gaya had suggested a declaration of a state of emergency as the only way to end the protracted violence that rocked the north central state over the years.
He also promised to table the suggestion before the Senate when it convened next week
But Dantong, who described the statement by his colleague as â€œvery shockingâ€, said it took him by surprise because the senator, who, he said, was a â€œvery close friendâ€, had never discussed the matter with him.
He added that the call for a state of emergency and the dissolution of all democratic structures in Plateau was unconstitutional.
The senator said that the Senate had discussed the matter in the past and affirmed that it did not refer to removing anyone from office.
â€œWhat a state of emergency entails is the strengthening of the structures in the affected areas so as to give more powers to the governor to effectively tackle a serious situation.
â€œWhen a state of emergency is declared, the governor gets sweeping powers and extra budgetary allocations to protect the people and tackle what is usually considered a bad and abnormal situation.
â€œA state of emergency does not suggest the removal of anyone from office as Gaya is suggesting; the constitution is clear on that. Anyone who ascends an office outside election is treason, and that is what Gaya is suggesting.
â€œA state of emergency was once declared in Plateau, but the courts revoked it and declared it null and void. It is an illegality which a senator should not be proposing.â€
Dantong advised his colleagues to see their role as that of elders who should point the way forward at all times.
â€œWhen we (senators) speak, what we say must be national in outlook and that is why we are called senators of the Federal Republic. We must not be sectional.â€
The senator wondered why Gaya never called for a state of emergency in Borno, Bauchi, Kaduna or Kano State, all of which, he said, had recorded their share of violence.
On Gayaâ€™s promise to table the call before the Senate, Dantong said â€œit will only be thrown out as the Senators will not be dragged into such.
â€œClearly, the worst is over in Plateau since the military Special task Force (STF) is already giving way to the Plateau-owned â€œOperation Rainbowâ€, which is expected to complete the peace process.
â€œThere could be pockets of skirmishes here and there which is not surprising for a state just emerging from some crises, but it is clear that the situation is under control.â€
Dantong expressed confidence that the â€œOperation Rainbowâ€ outfit would restore peace on the Plateau since it would be made up of the police that were used to the terrain, who would also work with members of the localities to protect the people.