16th May, 2013
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has urged the members of the National Assembly to carefully study the emergency rule imposed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by President Goodluck Jonathan so they can see it for what it is – a sweetened bitter pill meant to hoodwink Nigerians.
“Members of the federal legislature, as the true representatives of the people, must decide – purely on the basis of facts rather than sentiments – whether or not the emergency rule is the best option to resolve the Boko Haram crisis,” the party said in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. ”Truly understanding the proclamation will enable them to make an informed decision when the issue is brought before them.”
It said that the emergency rule, which is essentially martial law, has castrated democracy in the affected states, even though the democratic structures have been left largely intact.
ACN said the Jonathan Administration, realizing the groundswell of opposition that will be triggered if the Governors and the Houses of Assembly members were sacked, decided to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting Nigerians by leaving the elected officials in place even under the emergency rule.
“In practice, it was a monumental deception. First, the democratic structures left in place are of no use in a state under martial law; Secondly, the proclamation did not give a time frame, meaning that the emergency rule is open-ended and can last as long as the President wishes. After all, the emergency rule imposed on 15 local councils in four states was never lifted. Thirdly, now that the President has tested the waters and realized people could be so easily hoodwinked, what prevents him from extending the emergency rule to other states that catch his fancy?
“Truly, leaving the Governors and the state legislatures in place has made it easier for Nigerians to accept the imposition. But the truth is that the state chief executives and the legislatures have no role to play under the new system in place in the states.
“Essentially, there are two governments in place in each of the affected states, the de facto one headed by the military commander and the de jure one headed by the elected Governor. Real power resides in the de facto government, and the de jure government is just there in name. The Governors and the members of assembly are on holiday!
“What are the powers of the Governors and the state legislature now? Who has the power to order a search, an arrest, confiscation of property and lock-up of premises? Can the Governors move around freely, commission or inspect a project without the tacit approval of the military commander? Which is superior: the proclamation by the military commander or the law made by the state legislature? What happens if the military commanders order that the State House of Assembly be locked up for allegedly harbouring suspected Boko Haram members? These are some of the questions that should be asked before this proclamation is allowed to stand,” the party said.
ACN said its rejection of the imposition of emergency rule was based on the issues raised above, as well as the fact that it brings nothing new to the table – beyond the use of brute force and the infringement on the constitutional rights of innocent citizens – in the search for a sustainable solution to the Boko Haram crisis.
It reiterated its earlier statement that the use of minimal force must be complemented with genuine dialogue in the short term, while in the long term good governance that delivers the dividends of democracy, including jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, will help deny Boko Haram the fertile ground for recruiting ready hands to perpetrate violence.