President hailed for not disbanding democratic structures.
Nigerians reacted differently to the declaration of the State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday to check the security challenges in the states.
Mr. Jonathan had, in a nationwide broadcast, announced the declaration of the state of emergency in the three states.
He, however, said the democratic structures in the states would remain intact.
While some hailed the president’s decision, others condemned it, insisting that it would not make any major difference.
Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo, in statement, hailed the Federal Government for declaring a state of emergency in the three states in the light of the refusal of the insurgents to dialogue with it.
Mr. Keyamo noted that since it is the primary duty of the government to protect lives and property, it is right for it to dig deep with a view to finding lasting solution to the ceaseless carnage, stressing, “We owe it a duty to assist government to restore law and order in the country. It is for our overall benefit.”
He said, ““The declaration of a State of Emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States as a result of months of ceaseless bloodshed and carnage by insurgents is a step that has long been overdue.
“The bloodletting in these States left the President with no other option but to take this extraordinary step. This step must be appreciated in the light of the refusal of the insurgents to even dialogue with the Federal Government.
“The primary duty of any Government is to protect lives and properties and it is only right that government should dig deep to find a lasting solution to this ceaseless carnage.”
Mr. Keyamo, however, identified some measures that should be adopted by government in respect of the extraordinary action it is taking.
According to him, government should not politicise the action; military should not trample on the fundamental rights of innocent citizens in the states so that they do not become the scourge rather than solution; the President must follow all the steps required in Section 305 of the Constitution; and that troops must return to the barracks when calm is restored to states.
Also, a group, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, praised the government for adopting the measure to check insecurity in the states.
A statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Director of Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, said “HURIWA has unreservedly backed President Good luck Jonathan’s declaration of partial state of emergency in the terrorism afflicted North Eastern States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states even as the Rights group urged all democrats including leading political opposition figures to rally round the President in this bold attempt to once and for all clinically tackle and frontally confront the hydra-headed monster of violent terrorism anywhere in Nigeria.”
HURIWA added, “We have reviewed the contents of the national media broadcast made by Mr. President by 7pm of Tuesday May 14th 2013 and we have decided to throw our total and unconditional support to the declaration of the state of emergency on those states whereby terrorists have taken over and have constituted themselves into alternative government which are clear and present danger to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which jealously guides against any outrageous criminal act that will undermine the territorial integrity of Nigeria as a sovereign entity.
“Although these anti-terrorism measures were so long and late in coming but they are better late than never because if the President had failed to take these stern measures to salvage Nigeria from collapse then he would have faced very harsh historical judgment.”
The group also asked Mr. Jonathan “to disband the Presidential committee on amnesty to terrorists headed by his minister for special duties Mr. Tanimu Turaki,” because according to it, “the continuous negotiation with mass murderers will inevitably undermine the constitution of Nigeria and embolden law breakers and prospective terrorists and criminals to have a false sense of confidence and belief that terrorism and violence pays.”
However, a constitutional lawyer, Jiti Ogunye told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that by the broadcast, the Presidency merely admitted that it had been under pressure to re-assure Nigerians that the Federal Government was still in control of the situation. According to him, the new measure may not change anything.
“My general impression is that the Presidency is under pressure to re-assure Nigerians that the Federal Government is still in control of the situation. However, whether in the coming days Nigerians will be reassured is another thing.
“It has not added anything. The President condemned the killing of security agencies in Nasarawa and that the insurgents were trying to carve out a territory, hoisting a different flag. Yes, the President can say so.
“There is no responsible government that can allow and which will then mean that more troops will be deployed. The question therefore is: If more troops are deployed, what have the troops been doing before now? Weren’t more troops deployed before now?
“Again, the troops have been taking extra measures by conducting house to house search on a daily basis without search warrant, so what extra measures are they going to take?
“So, I don’t think the President has said anything new. What he has admitted is that the insurgents have an ideology and want to carve out a separate state. By that he should have called for a Sovereign National Conference. He may not call it that. He can call it National Dialogue.”
However, Mr. Ogunye said Mr. Jonathan did not misapply the constitutional provisions as did former President Olusegun Obasanjo who dismantled the democratic structures in Plateau and Ekiti States some years ago.
Also speaking, the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, said the President may have been left with no option than to declare a state of emergency in the affected states, adding “let’s concede to him; he may have a broader view of the crisis since he relates with the security agencies.”
Mr. Fashakin, who issued a statement last Sunday warning the Federal Government against imposing emergency rule in some northern states, said, “Let’s pray that everything works out fine for our nation.”
The national leadership of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, the party that controls Borno and Yobe States, could not immediately respond to the emergency declaration by the Federal Government.
Its spokesman, Emma Eneukwu, told PREMIUM TIMES he would prefer to meet with the senior members of the party’s leadership before reacting to the President’s broadcast.
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