By Our Reporters
On the lips of eminent Nigerians and groups yesterday were mixed views on the Federal Government’s declaration of state of emergency in some areas of four states of the country, to contain the murderous activities of the Boko Haram Sect.
President Goodluck Jonathan on December 31, 2011 declared emergency rule in 15 Local Councils spread across the states of Borno (five), Yobe (five), Plateau (four) and Niger (one) as part of “decisive measures necessary to restore normalcy in the country especially within the affected communities.”
Response to the decision yesterday ranged from approval to criticism and cautious optimism.
Among those who spoke on the issue were the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN); Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF); Second Republic Politician, Alhaji Yahaya Kwande; Former Transport Minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; Third Republic Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Austin Opara; former Member of the House of Representatives, Nze Chidi Duru; Rights Activist, Mr. Richard Akinnola; and Lagos Politician, Sunbo Onitiri.
This is as Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima urged calm and citizenry of Plateau and Yobe brace up for the rule.
Address root cause of insecurity, not symptoms – ACN
Reacting to the declaration, the ACN said it welcomes whatever reasonable measures the President takes to put an end to the needless loss of lives and the overheating of the polity, but warned that a state of emergency could only address the symptoms rather than the root causes of security crisis facing the nation.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said that a more fundamental solution must be found to the crisis, adding that with the gravity of the problem, it would be futile to leave the search for the solution to the President and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “both of whom have proved that they lack the wherewithal to end the crisis on their own.”
‘’All stakeholders, including religious, political and traditional leaders as well as civil society organisations must come together to help fashion out a lasting solution. Our party, on its part, is ever ready to contribute its quota in this regard, if and when called upon.
‘’We also believe that our elder statesmen, the past heads of state, have a great role to play. Though they may have acted individually on this, it is imperative that they work in unison to help end the crisis, which is threatening our democracy and indeed the very survival of our nation. If we all fail
to act now, no one will be spared of the consequences, irrespective of their party affiliation or religious leaning,’’ ACN said.
The party said while the imposition of a State of Emergency may seem to be a natural cause of action to take at this time, it must be followed by a robust engagement, wider consultations, dialogue and measures to address the grievances of those perpetrating the violence.
‘’As we have said in our earlier statements, this process can start with the convening of a national stakeholders security summit that will involve the major stakeholders. The summit will help
fashion out a road-map for ending the crisis, which we don’t have to live with anyway, no matter the thinking at the highest echelon of government,’’ it said.
ACN said the State of Emergency has its limitations, in that it will simply result in more militarization of the affected areas, more road blocks and the constriction of the civil liberties of the people, adding that unless more far-reaching measures were adopted, the perpetrators of the crisis would simply leave the affected areas and move to other areas to continue their dastardly act.
‘’It is like the way armed robberies have continued despite the numerous road blocks dotting the country. The robbers simply avoid the road blocks on their way to carrying out their nefarious activities. A State of Emergency, therefore, is a palliative measure.
We must fashion out a lasting solution now. We don’t have to wait until the entire country is put under emergency rule.
‘’It is clear that the perpetrators of the violence believe they have grievances against the state, at whatever level. As unreasonable as this may seem in certain quarters, the truth is that unless these grievances are largely addressed, we will remain in the woods,’’ the party said.
Selective emergency declaration not the solution – Chidi Duru
In like manner, Nze Chidi Duru wondered if selective declaration of emergency rule would address the problem. He queried how the policy would work and whether or not affected Local Council Chairmen would be sacked.
His words: “I hope and pray that the declaration will stem the descent into lawlessness. I don’t think that selective declaration of emergency will solve the problem. There are more fundamental issues. Intelligence gathering of our security apparatus is at its lowest ebb.
Otherwise, they would have nipped the crisis in the bud. Government should create employment for the teeming youths. People must also believe in oneness of Nigeria. I don’t think selective declaration of emergency will solve the problem.”
Jonathan is on the right track – Babatope
However, Babatope said that the President was on the right way to addressing the problem. “I think the president has done the right thing. We cannot continue to watch the destruction of innocent lives. We supposed to be a united country living in peace. What the president has done will help us to identify to identify and deal with those responsible.”
ACF okays move
On its part, the ACF said it had no problems with the Federal Government decision so long as the government had sufficient intelligence report to warrant such action.
Said National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Mr Anthony Sani: ‘’Quite frankly, we don’t have the facts on the declaration of state of emergency that can inform any reactions. But, any actions by Mr President, which is well informed through intelligence gathering that is capable of bringing about peaceful co-existence and national security would be welcomed by Nigerians.’’
It’s mixed reactions on the Plateau
In Jos, the reactions of a cross section of Nigerians were diverse. While some said emergency rule was overdue others faulted the move as not far-reaching enough to tackle the problem at hand.
Member representing Jos South/Jos East Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Bitrus Kaze, wondered the criteria that was used to decide which states would be affected considering the fact that some equally troubled states were left out.
“What is the yardstick? What about Kaduna where there had been several bombings and a factory for manufacturing bomb was discovered or Bauchi where Boko-Haram was bred? What about Gombe and FCT? I don’t know the yardstick but I know he dealt with the issue partially.
The Solution is justice, whenever anybody is caught in the act, he should be dealt with. You heard the Inspector General of Police saying they caught only the boys. Who are the men? The President ought to have critically examined the activities of the service chiefs, what we need to address the upheavals on the Plateau is justice”, he argued.
Kaze advised the Federal Government to be courageous enough to go after the sponsors of the crisis and bring them to justice.
A rights group, the Christian Foundation for Social Justice and Equity while commending the President for the action said the emergency should have been total in the affected states to be effective in tackling the security challenges threatening the corporate existence of the country.
In a statement by its Executive Director, Mr. Joseph Sangosanya, the body also said the state of emergency should be extended to critical sectors and issues that were critical to the country’s well being.
“However late, it (declaration) is a step in the right direction. But total state of emergency is required urgently in the affected states as this will address the ugly events that are threatening the corporate existence of the country in a holistic manner. Mr. President should immediately initiate a bill to make aiding and abetting terrorism a capital offence with capital punishment”, the statement said.
To the Chairman of Plateau State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Philip Dafes, the government instead of the declaration of emergency, should have implemented the reports of commissions that investigated the crisis in the state and punished those indicted to serve as a deterrent.
Plateau govt welcomes decision
Meanwhile, the Plateau State Government says it welcomes any step towards restoring lasting peace to the state.
The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yiljap Abraham, said the state government would continue to cooperate with those saddled with carrying out the president’s mandate in the state as it has always done.
“The state government will continue to be interested in measures aimed at containing threats to security in the state. Already, the state government has been collaborating with the chief of defence staff and the Special Task Force who have been carrying out the President’s mandate in the state.
While the nation awaits further details on the president’s proclamation, the state government is appealing to citizens of the state to continue to remain calm, law-abiding and vigilant”, he said in a statement.
Kashim calls for calm
Governor Kashim, whose Borno State is one of the most affected, in a new year message to the people yesterday, urged them to obey lawful instructions and shun all forms of rumour that might further jeopardize efforts at restoring peace in the state.
Urging calm, Shettima said the proclamation did not in any way affect the democratic structure and functions of Government, adding that it was also pertinent to note that the Borno State Government was determined to partner with the Federal Government in all areas, especially on security.
The governor said security was a collective responsibility, adding that citizens should be vigilant as the measures that might be introduced, especially in the affected areas were temporary, and people should not panic, in the event that extra security steps were taken.
“We assure our citizens that as a Government we are awake to our responsibility, and will do everything possible to ensure the safety and comfort of all and sundry. As you may be aware, the Federal Government has made a pronouncement, declaring a state of emergency in some Local Government Areas of Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger states, following the lingering spate of insecurity in the affected areas. In the face of this, we wish to reassure our citizens that there is no cause for alarm,.” he explained.
Emergency is a necessity – Yahaya Kwande
On his part, Kwande said: “The issue is a very difficult issue. But what I will say is that the issue of state of emergency in these troubled states is a necessity that should be supported. I will not say that I am happy about it, but it is a good step considering the level of insecurity in the state where they were declared.
Also being an indigene of Plateau State where it was also declared also makes me feel affected by it because Plateau is not where it is supposed to be in terms of peace. We the indigines of the state are so concerned and want peace to return to Plateau State.
I will like to thank Mr. President for seeking the part of peace and I hope that the emergency will go a long away in bringing about peace.”
We should no longer wait for things to deteriorate —Chukwuemeka Ezeife
For, Ezeife, it was time to start taking pre-emptive steps to halt mass killing of innocent citizenry. “When Maiduguri was boiling months ago that we called for immediate action because we knew that the crisis would grow beyond what it was.
This declaration is good but it is coming late because a lot of damages have been done before it was announced. If it was announced early it would have save many lives. And the nation would have been saved from the killings going on.
By introducing it does not mean that the government will perform very well, but is shows seriousness and commitment on the part of the government. We should not wait until things begin to degenerate before taking actions on serious national issues. We should learn to be prompt on important issues of this magnitude.”
Blame northern elders and emirs for anymore bomb blast —Onitiri
Onitiri said: “If any bomb blast happens again in this country, Nigerians and the Presidency should hold northern elders and emirs responsible. We call on all Nigerians to cooperate and support President Goodluck Jonathan to achieve the needed peace in this period of general insecurity. Jonathan needs our support to surmount the challenges posed by incessant bomb blast.
Declaration is illegal, partial – Akinnola
On his part, Rights Activist, Richard Akinnola yesterday criticised the move and wondered why Abuja was not included.
His words: “Section 305 sub-section 1 and 2 of the constitution, this is the issue of declaration of state of emergency by the president. There is nothing special about it, about from the fact that we were not shown the gazette in which the declaration is because the constitution talks about the proclamation has to be gazette, which was not done.
“And why was Abuja not included among the states that state of emergency was declared, two major areas that had been affected- the police headquarter and the UN? So why was Abuja not included? Those areas were already a state of emergency. As far I am concern, this part of the constitution has not been strictly adhered to.”
Speaking with Vanguard in an interview, Lagos, Akinnola said “the National Assembly, (the Senate and House of Reps) still have to pass a resolution giving their backing to the declaration, which has not been done.
In any case, soldiers have already taken over these places that were just declared state of emergency, so there is nothing new in it. The only thing is that the governors have not been removed from those states because it did not affect all the states.”
The president can impose emergency rule in any part of the country to maintain peace and order. However, he has no power to remove any elected governor of a state or chairmen of local council.
What he has done is in order and it is in line with the law. Meanwhile, he has to ensure that the fundamental rights of any Nigerian living in those areas are not trampled upon.
One really wonders what President Jonathan wants to achieve in imposing the emergency rule in some local governments in some states in the North. Nobody is faulting his ability in Section 305 of the Constitution to impose emergency rule in any part of the country, especially when the law and order have been broken down in those areas.
However, before now, military men have been deployed to carry out security operations in those areas. That one on its own is a military emergency. The question now is why the isolations and what extra ordinary measure is he bringing into the imposition?
To me, is this not a mere ruse or political gimmick; is it that he does not want the impact to affect the state governors? Ordinarily, he has no power to remove elected Chairmen of those councils. To me, he is only enjoining the council officials to cooperate with the military in their operations.
What Nigerians want the President to do is to reorganize the security system, which he has not addressed. What the Security Adviser, retired Gen. Owoye Andrew Azazi said few days ago make us wonder who is in control of our security.
Everything is being politisized. A national decision ought to be taken to move the nation forward. In as much as the emergency rule is overdue, the type imposed in local government areas is not the kind that will likely achieve any positive result.