15th May, 2013
Mixed reactions have trailed the declaration of state of emergency in three states of the federation by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday.
Three states, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, are now under emergency rule as a result of breakdown of law and order and mass killings of innocent people by Islamic terrorists.
Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere said what the president declared in those states was not state of emergency but simply a martial law because the governors of the states were still left in office.
National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said the president is still “dancing around the issue and appears to deal with the issue without getting result.”
Human rights activist, Bamidele Aturu said the entire nation is already in a state of emergency because law and order have broken down as kidnappers, militancy and other crimes have taken over, saying that what the president had just done was nothing to cheer about.
“Nigeria is already in a state of emergency given the fact that there is serious security threat all over the country. What Jonathan has just done is to formalize the issue. Nothing has changed. What I think he has just done now is to begin to take seriously the security threat in the nation,” he said.
Aturu said Jonathan should take seriously the issue of security all over the states of the nation, saying that “we are just directionless. It must be made clear to the military that they are in those states to protect lives and they must not violate the rights of the people.
“They should know that a state of emergency is not a state of anarchy. If they go on a killing spree, the president should be held responsible. We should not see state of emergency as a lazy response, the real issue must be addressed, which is unemployment.”
Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay hailed the declaration of emergency rule in the states without removing the political heads, saying what former President Olusegun Obasanjo did when he declared emergency rule in Plateau State by removing the political head was unconstitutional and illegal.
“What Obasanjo used to do was blatantly unconstitutional and illegal. A state of emergency does not affect the sitting governor or the state House of Assembly at all.
“If you look at Section 11 (4 and 5) of the Constitution, you will see that a state of emergency does not affect the tenure of the governor or the House of Assembly. The President has kept to the Constitution. If he had declared any other thing, it would have been illegal,” he said.
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo said the declaration of a State of Emergency as a result of months of ceaseless bloodshed and carnage by insurgents was a step long been overdue.
“The primary duty of any government is to protect life and property and it is only right that government should dig deep to find a lasting solution to the ceaseless carnage. However, there are strong caveats we must issue to government in respect of this extraordinary action.
“Government must not in any way politicise this action. It is constitutionally correct that the President did not attempt to suspend the governors from office as nothing in Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gives him such a power. What Obasanjo did in the past in suspending governors through a declaration of a state of emergency was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. Unfortunately, none of the governors had the mettle to challenge him in court,” he said.
Keyamo stated that the military must be careful at all times not to trample on the fundamental rights of innocent citizens in these states, so that they do not become the scourge rather than solution and that the president must follow all the steps required in Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to legitimise his action.
According to Olu Daramola, SAN, what the president did was not a state of emergency since the governors still hold on to their offices, which was not supposed to be under an emergency rule.
“An emergency means that the presidency has temporarily taken over the administration of these states due to the prevailing security circumstances. But if the governors are still in office, then nothing has changed,” he said, adding that what Jonathan has just done is to create more confusion rather than solve the problem.
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) said it would continue to pray for the President in spite of its contrary view to the declaration of emergency rule in three northern states.
The Primate of the church, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, made the remark on Tuesday in Abuja in a reaction to the state of emergency.
The cleric who had earlier on Monday voiced his opposition to calls for emergency rule, insisted that the position was not “personal.”
According to him, we will continue to pray for him (President Goodluck Jonathan) and he should be guided by the constitution.”
Retired Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, a former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the declaration by Jonathan would render useless the objectives behind the Committee he set up to dialogue with Boko Haram.
The retired police chief said the military had already taken over the states long ago, adding that the mere pronouncement would not change the situation.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) described it as apt.
Mr. Okey Wali, President of the association, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that the decision was a further resolve by the Federal Government to protect the country and its people from further aggression by undesirable elements.
Meanwhile, Yobe Government said that it would work with the security agencies to restore peace and security following the state of emergency declared in the state.
This is contained in a statement signed by Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Information.
The statement read: “Yobe Government agrees with President Goodluck Jonathan on the need to take more effective measures to address the problem of insecurity in the country.
“Yobe Government will continue to work closely with the security agents and will ensure that their conduct reflects the spirit of the emergency declaration by Mr. President and the rules of engagement specified for that purpose.”
It called on the public to continue with their usual support and cooperation with security agents, “which proved critical in bringing about the relative peace enjoyed in the state in the past months.”
It also urged members of the public to go about their normal and legitimate businesses and to report suspicious movements in their areas to security agents.
The state government gave the assurance that it would remain focused and committed to the ongoing task of transforming the state through provision “of the much-needed social services.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Damaturu residents are going about their normal businesses.
They also expressed gratitude to God, the government and the security agencies for the relative peace enjoyed in the state.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the beginning of the end of insurgency had begun with President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of state of emergency in the troubled states.
Reacting to the development, Chief Olatunji Shelle, the Lagos State Chairman of PDP, told NAN that the president’s action displayed absolute wisdom and perfect understanding of the situation.
He said: “This is superlative and highly commendable outing by the president; all the enemies of Nigeria will be dumbfounded.”
On his part, Chief Winston Odum-Ojobi, the African Regional President of Global Care, Education and Peace Initiative, an NGO, supported the president’s action.
He said: “The president’s declaration is in line with Section 305, sub-section A, C, D, F of the 1999 Constitution as amended.‘’
Odum-Ojobi, however, said that the president should have suspended all political office holders and hold them in Abuja for they, either by commission or omission, contributed to the deteriorating troubles in their states.
Mr Abraham Breakforth, the Executive Director of a political NGO, Global Initiative for African Development (GIFAD), also expressed optimism that Jonathan’s action would bring lasting solution to the troubled states.
“We are in support of President Jonathan’s declaration of state of emergency in the troubled parts of the North which we believe will bring about lasting solution and full military action in those areas.
“Jonathan has acted well; it shows he is an action president,” he said.
For Mr Toyin Raheem, the Secretary of the Campaign for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (CCHR), Jonathan’s action is a commendable one though the state of emergency was long overdue.
“The president’s action is morally, legally and constitutionally right.
“For this singular act, he has won the heart of the human rights activists and for still allowing political office holders to be in power,” he said.
However, Mr Mohammed Oyefeso, a Lawyer and a former Electoral Commissioner with the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), did not support Jonathan’s action.
According to him, state of emergency is not the solution to the problems.
“The president is not right to still retain the governors and political office holders in those states.
“For the president to still retain those governors and still pronounce state of emergency in those states is contradictory, but I think the president is trying to be political,” he said.
In Ebonyi, some political stakeholders in Abakaliki have expressed diverse views on the emergency rule proclaimed by President Goodluck Jonathan on three Northern states in the country.
Most respondents interviewed by NAN commended the president for the action, while others faulted the retention of the elected political office holders in the affected states.
Dr Hygenius Aligwe, Head of Department, Mass Communication, Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Abakaliki, hailed the move, describing it as long overdue.
“I however want all conditions required in emergency rule to be applied to the fullest. The arrest and prosecution of whoever has unpatriotically threatened the unity of the country should be implemented immediately,” he said.
Dr Jonathan Aliede, Coordinator, School of Post Graduate Studies, EBSU Abakaliki, said that though the declaration of state of emergency anywhere portend negativity and setback, it was an attempt to end anarchy.
Aliede said: “In this case, if it is the right and only prescription to the endemic insecurity virus threatening the country, then let it be.
“Hopefully, having conferred with the security authorities, the president must have weighed all options and came to the finality that it is the only panacea left,”
On his part, Chief Jerry Obasi, state Chairman of APGA in Ebonyi, faulted the an emergency rule that still allowed elected officials in the states to retain their functions.
“This is a wrong move, as emergency rule everywhere in the world requires that elected officers should relinquish their offices within the stipulated period.
“The president would only compound the problems as the political office holders who fuel the embers of the insurgency for their selfish interest, would still have a field day,” he said.