The federal government has said it is not foreclosing the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in Anambra State if events emanating show that the November 6 governorship election is under threat.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said this Wednesday while speaking to State House reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa.
IPOB members have been killing and maiming people and also destroying public and private property in all the southeastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. Its fighters also enforced a sit-at-home order and directed banks and government offices to remove the national flag from their premises.
There were allegations that the governors in the region were not doing enough to stem the tide.
According to Chambers 20th Century Dictionary, a state of emergency is the suspension of normal law and order procedures and the introduction of strict controls of the population that usually involves the military, so that a crisis, revolution can be contained.
During the tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Joshua Dariye was removed in May 2004 and a military administrator deployed to superintend the affairs of Plateau State.
Also, in October 2006, Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Ekiti State following what he described as the ‘unconstitutional’ impeachment of Governor Ayodele Fayose.
However, when President Goodluck Jonathan announced the declaration of a state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States on May 14, 2013, he allowed the governors, their deputies and the House of Assemblies to continue to function.
What Malami said
The minister of justice said yesterday that the government would take proactive measures to ensure that the democratic order was kept safe (in Anambra).
He said: “When our national security is attacked and the sanctity of our constitutionally guaranteed democracy is threatened, no possibility is ruled out.
“As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure the sustenance of our democratic order. As a government, we have a responsibility to provide security to life and property.
“So, within the context of these constitutional obligations, of the government or the desire to establish democratic norms and order, there is no possibility that is ruled out.
“So, what I am saying in essence, no possibility is out ruled by the government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our election in Anambra holds and you cannot out rule possibilities inclusive of the possibility of a declaration of a state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.
“So, our position as a government is that these elections are going to hold and necessary security in terms of democratic order must certainly prevail for this election,” he said.
Malami confirmed our worst fears – State gov’t
The Anambra State government has described the statement credited to the justice minister as confirmation of the fear of Nigerians that politicians outside Anambra State in collaboration with their local minions were behind the recent spate of killings in the state to scare the people from coming out to vote. This was contained in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment Mr C. Don Adinuba.
According to him, what Malami said was a strong indictment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
“It seems that since these politicians have proved unable to intimidate the Anambra people from coming out to participate in the election, they have resolved to impose an emergency rule on the state.
“Not up to 15 persons have lost their lives since the new spectre of violence in the state. For a state that has for the past seven years enjoyed the well-deserved reputation of being Nigeria’s safest and most peaceful state, this number is pretty high.
“But it is absolutely not even a fraction of the casualties the nation has seen in places like Borno, Zamfara, Katsina, Benue, Plateau, Yobe, Niger, Adamawa, Taraba, and others where terrorists have not only killed several thousands of civilians but also successfully attacked military formations and slaughtered soldiers and other security officers,” he said.
APGA: Go and implement emergency in Zamfara, Katsina
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which is the ruling party in Anambra, has urged the federal government not to toy with the idea of declaring a state emergency in the state.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Tex Okechukwu, said in a statement last night that the threat was uncalled for because Anambra State had ranked as the most peaceful state in Nigeria for seven years.
“The rationale behind planning to declare a state of emergency in Anambra State is questionable with less than one month to the governorship election when it (federal government) was yet to do the same in worse states such as Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger and Nasarawa,” Okechukwu said.
He urged the federal government to look inwards and unmask those fermenting trouble in the state, instead of making a decision that would cause more harm than good to the nation’s democracy.
APC planning to rig – PDP
The leading opposition PDP also cautioned the APC-led federal government to ignore contemplation of imposing a state of emergency in Anambra State ahead of the November 6 governorship election.
The PDP, through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it held the reported move to foist an emergency rule in Anambra State was a ploy by the APC-led government to suppress the people, manipulate the process and rig the governorship election for the APC and its candidate.
Ologbondiyan said the PDP demanded that the APC and its administration should come clean on their roles in the sudden rise in insecurity in Anambra State ahead of the election.
“This demand is predicated on apprehensions in the public space that the spate of insecurity in Anambra is contrived to heighten tension in the state to derail the democratic process to the advantage of the APC,” it said.
PDP still living in the past – APC
Responding, the APC said that the PDP was still living in the past.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, told our correspondent in a telephone chat last night that if the PDP was still in power, the party would have taken over Lagos and Anambra States long ago.
“The PDP should understand that we are not like them. Look at what is happening in Anambra State. They are asking people to stay at home, thereby stopping them from going about their businesses. They are just forcing people to do what they don’t like.
“When it comes to elections, the PDP should know that politics is a game of number; it is not about the APC taking over Anambra State by force. The people are wiser now,” he said.