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State of emergency: Jonathan is right, no he’s not – SANS

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By DAYO BENSON, WAHAB ABDULLAH  & BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE

Tuesday declaration of State of Emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan in three northern states namely Bornu, Yoba and Adamawa, following escalating insurgency, has elicited mixed reactions from Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Below are some of the views expressed on the issue:

Emergency declaration doesn’t affect Governor, Assembly —Prof Itse Sagay SAN

I entirely agree with the President. That is a right step, in my view, that should have happened long ago. You don’t use soft tactics with terrorists, people who have no human feelings. With impunity they have sent thousands of people to eternity. So the security will now be controlled by the security agencies and they can take measures to eradicate this insurgency. With the way they were going, they were declaring a state within a state. Not only physical terror, but they were controlling the population. In the end, we will have another state within Nigeria, controlled by terrorists. So he took the right step.

Second, I agree entirely with him that the State of Emergency does not affect the tenure of the Governor or the right of the House of Assembly to seat. What Obasanjo used to do was illegal and a breach of the constitution. And it is a shame that the Supreme Court did nothing about it.

So what President Jonathan has done now is the correct thing. The Constitution states clearly in section 11 (4) (5) that the tenure of the governor and the right of the House of Assembly to seat are not affected by the declaration of State of Emergency. We must now vigorously exterminate the terrible scourge on our hands for further existing.

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It is a welcome development —Yusuf Ali, SAN

This is a state of emergency with a difference, in that the president has left all the democratic structures intact, unlike what we were used to before, when sole administrator will be appointed in place of the democratic structures.

I think that it is a positive development but we all have to agree that the government has to be decisive in the event of the onslaughts by the disparaging groups, that has put fear in every Nigerian and expose them to danger. No nation can make progress when people are living under fear.

It is a welcome development that the government sees it as a challenge that it must tackle the issue and fight the battle frontally. When the government is taking step to restore law and order or facing any security challenge, I think the rule of law should not suffer, it should be done under the umbrella of the rule of law. There shouldn’t be extra judicial killings in any form. Anybody who does this must be ready to face the dictates of the law.

I commend the efforts of the FG — Emeka Ngige SAN

I think the speech by Mr President is okay. Unlike the state of emergencies declared during Obasanjo’s regime which were made in bad faith and used to remove Governors who were in the bad books of the federal government, the present declaration was made with the best of intentions.  No political appointee or political institution was removed.To that extent, I commend the efforts of the Federal Government in stepping up its war against terrorism in parts of the North East zone. From the action of the FGN, it would seem that the amnesty offer to Boko Haram has been withdrawn. It’s now full scale war against the terrorists. I fully endorse the action of the federal government and suggest that the state of emergency declared to fight terrorism should also be extended in the fight against corruption. Corruption is choking the citizenry and the earlier the government declares a state of emergency in that area the better for this country.

Its half declaration of State of Emergency —Mike Ozekho-lome SAN

The truth is that it is the civilian, the half innocent populace that will suffer it because the Boko Haram people who are few in number will simply try to be hiding.

So what the president has done now is to dance to the tune of former President Obasanjo who had prescribed the same in Odi and Zakibiam. He has criticized that step by the former president, who went demolishing villages and towns. It is not the best way of handling security situation. But he has unwittingly fallen into that same trap by doing what he has done.

My only window of happiness is that he did not remove the Governor or the House of Assembly which are structures set up by the constitution and erected by the people.

So what Mr President has done therefore is not a full declaration of State of Emergency in the way that we know it. It is a half declaration of State of Emergency. I think the right word should not have been a State of Emergency; it should have been that he has taken extra strong step to treat the security situation in those states. A full declaration of State of Emergency also envisages the removal of elected structures such as Obasanjo did in Plateau State.

Jonathan’s action is commendable —Femi Falana, SAN

President Goodluck Jonathan’s action is commendable for not following the antecedent of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo. He has followed the path of constitutionality, unlike the ex-president Obasanjo who hid under the state of emergency to remove democratically elected governors; he has deviated from impunity by following the provisions of the law.

No reasonable government will fold its hands and allow insanity to reign supreme in the country.? However, our argument is that every step taken by the government must be in line with the constitution and the rule of law.

It is clear that by virtue of section 305 of the constitution, a? state of emergency exists when the President adopts extra-ordinary measures to restore law and order.

I submit, without any fear of contradicction, that the president has no power whatsoever?to remove an elected governor under the pretext of imposing a state of emergency in any part of the country. President Jonathan has had cause to impose a state of emergency in some local governments in Borno and Plateau states.

On those occasions, the elected chairmen and councilors were not removed from office. It is specifically stated in section 11(4) of the constitution that a governor shall not be removed because the National Assembly has taken over the legislative powers of a state during a state of emergency.

?A governor can only be removed by impeachment, resignation or infirmity of body or mind and not through the imposition of a state of emergency. There is no provision of the constitution that empowers the President to remove a governor and replace him with a sole administrator.

So, the removal of governors? by President Olusegun Obasanjo? was part of the culture of?executive lawlessness and impunity that characterised his tenure. The constitutional anomaly of removing elected governors by the President should not be accepted by Nigerians under any guise. After all, the President is not removed whenever the country is involved in the prosecution of a civil or external war. As the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he remains in office to prosecute the war in collaboration with the National Assembly.”

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