July 6, 2021

We must okay FG’s security operations in our states — Southern govs

Southern Govs

*Say Presidency must return South in 2023

*Back 5% equity stake for host communities in PIB

*Set Sept 1 deadline for laws banning open grazing

*Reject removal of electronic transmission of election result from Amendment Bill

*Insist on true federalism, devolution of powers

*Stop pursuing Igboho, apologise to him, Soyinka tells FG

*Says FG kidnapped Nnamdi Kanu; notes his arrest was wrong

*We respond for President — ADESINA

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Southern Governors’ Forum, SGF, Monday, unanimously resolved that security agencies must notify them of any operations in their states before doing so.

They also declared that the Presidency should return to the South in 2023, saying rotation will ensure peaceful co-existence and unity in the country.

The governors also set September 1 as deadline for the commencement of the ban on open grazing in all southern states of the country.

This is even as Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, said yesterday it is neither criminal nor illegal for anyone to express intention to leave any federation, asking the Federal Government to leave Sunday Igboho alone and apologise to him over attack on his house by the DSS and soldiers.

He also said there would be an uproar in the country if the truth of how Kanu was arrested became known in the country.

The Presidency failed to react last night to the governors’  declaration, as Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said:

“It is not about the Presidency. We respond for the President. You can’t bring things that are not about the President to us.”

READ ALSO: STATE OF THE NATION: Southern governors in emergency meeting

Efforts to also get the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, last night also proved abortive, as spokesman of Force Headquarters, CP Frank Mba, could not be reached on phone.

But the position of the governors came against the backdrop of the attack on the Soka, Ibadan residence of Yoruba activist, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, by a combined team of soldiers and operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, last Thursday.

15 govs present, 2 absent

15 governors were present at the meeting in Lagos to discuss issues relating to the state of the nation, while two, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, and Willie Obiano of Anambra State, were absent.

Those in attendance were Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).

Other governors represented by their deputies are Governor Obaseki of Edo State, who was represented by his deputy, Philip Shuaibu; Governor Hope Uzodinma, represented by his deputy, Placid Njoku; Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, represented by his deputy, Ude Oko-Chukwu; and Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, who was represented by his deputy, Kelechi Igwe.

Rising from the meeting, the second in the series  of the Forum in Lagos, the governors in a communique read by the chairman and governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, said: 

“The Southern Governors Forum at the end of the meeting held on Monday, 5th July, 2021, resolved that if for any reason security institutions need to undertake an operation in any state, the chief security officer of the state must be duly informed.

“The forum frowns on selective criminal administration of justice and resolved that arrests should be made within the ambit of the law and fundamental human rights.

“It sets a timeline of Wednesday, September 1, 2021, for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all member states.

“The forum reviewed the situation in the country and focused on the current security situation, constitutional amendment, Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.

“The forum re-affirmed its commitment to the unity of Nigeria on the pillars of equity, fairness, justice, progress and peaceful co-existence between and among its people.

“The Forum reiterates its commitment to the politics of equity, fairness and unanimously agrees that the Presidency of Nigeria be rotated between Southern and Northern Nigeria and resolved that the next president of Nigeria should emerge from the Southern region.

“The Forum reviewed the security situation in the country and commends security operatives for their relentless efforts in restoring security and safety and commiserates with families and loved ones of those who have fallen in the line of duty;

“It re-emphasised the need for state police; resolved that Funds deducted from the Federation Account for the Nigeria Police Security Trust Fund should be distributed among the states and federal government to combat security challenges.

“On the PIB law, the forum commended the National Assembly for the progress made in the passage of the PIB.

“The forum, however, rejected the “proposed 3% and support the 5% share of the oil revenue to host community as recommended by the House of Representatives.

“The governors also rejected the “proposed 30% share of profit for the exploration of oil and gas in the frontier basins.

“However, the forum rejects the ownership structure of the proposed Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC.

“The Forum disagrees that the company be vested in the Federal Ministry of Finance but should be held in trust by Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, since all tiers of government have stakes in that vehicle.

“To consolidate our democracy and strengthen the electoral process, the Southern Governors’ Forum rejects the removal of the electronic transmission of the election results from the Electoral Act; and also rejects the confirmation of exclusive jurisdiction in pre-election matters on the Federal High Court.

“The Forum unanimously chose Lagos State as its permanent secretariat and appreciated the governor of Lagos State for the wonderful hosting of this meeting, while commending him for his good work in the state.”

Leave Igboho alone, apologise to him — Soyinka

Also yesterday, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, asked the federal government to leave Sunday Igboho alone, saying it was not criminal to agitate to quit any federation.

He condemned as bizarre, the midnight raid by the Department of State Services, DSS, on the Soka house of the Yoruba activist last Thursday in Ibadan.

Soyinka, who spoke during an interview with BBC News Pidgin yesterday, urged the government to apologise to Igboho.

He said:  “How can you place the will for separation as a criminal act? That kind of language doesn’t exist in the constitution, it doesn’t exist in law. It does not exist in the catalogue of immoralities because it is not an immoral act or position to say that you want to stop being part of an entity or you want to join an entity.”

Soyinka subsequently gave examples of people who left a federation or a union to form or join another state, including the Bakassi people of Southern Nigeria who seceded to Cameroon.

“My advice to the government is that they should stop pursuing Igboho as a criminal because you have begun by acting in a criminal fashion against him.

“If and when Igboho comes to trial, I guarantee you the government will be very embarrassed.

“I think they should tell Igboho ‘we made a mistake’, ‘we should not have acted in this way’, ‘you are no longer wanted’, ‘go back to your home, in fact escort him to his home’ and let him resume his normal life,” he said.

According to Soyinka, Igboho’s fight for freedom was preceded by criminal acts of enemies of Nigeria who “appear to be supported by the force of the state.”

While Soyinka noted he doesn’t ‘like the sound of a Yoruba Nation’ anymore than he likes the sound of a Tiv or Igbo nation, he said the country must be restructured through the decentralisation of power.

He noted that Nigeria’s current structure was imposed upon the people by the military.

‘Huge squawk when truth of Kanu’s arrest comes out’

On the arrest of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Soyinka said:  “It’s not for me to tell the President to prepare himself because it’s going to be a huge squawk when the truth about how Kanu was arrested comes out.

“People are alleging this or that. That is one phase whether Nigeria has acted outside international law.

“The second issue, however, has to do with Kanu’s conduct outside the nation. There’s been a level of hate rhetoric which has been unfortunate, from Kanu. Hate rhetoric is an issue that can only be judged by the laws of any nation.

“Was it right ‘to have been kidnapped?’ You can say intercepted as much as you want but I think Kanu was kidnapped. That is wrong internationally and morally.”

Commenting on the reactions that have trailed the swiftness with which the Federal Government arrested Kanu, the Nobel laureate said the Federal Government had not shown the same eagerness in going after bandits and insurgents.

He said: “The government cannot wash itself clean on what seems to be a kind of comparative energy in pursuing the destabilising forces in the nation.

“If we take ourselves back, once when I threw a challenge to Buhari, what I expect from a true leader is to issue an order, give a deadline that any illegal occupant of any villages, farms is given 48 hours to quit after which the mighty forces of the nation will be unleashed on them. It was ignored.

“Years later, he came to say ‘we will respond to these people in the language they understand’.

This is what I expected him to have said years ago, at the beginning of the insurgency.

“Their leadership–the Miyetti Allah — should have been arrested years ago, long before IPOB was declared a terrorist organisation.”

He said rather, the Miyetti Allah group had continued to act unchecked, while the Federal Government has refused to “mount the same energy against them.”

“So people are right to say there has been an unequal and irregular approach to security and enforcement in this nation,” Soyinka said.

He advised the Federal Government to stop the blame game and take action.

Vanguard News Nigeria