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Emergency rule: D-day for troubled states as FG holds security meeting

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Story:  DANIEL OBI,Zebulon Agomuo, Obinna Emelike, Odinaka Anudu & Ayanfe Akintola


Ahead of today’s enlarged national security meeting convened by President Goodluck Jonathan, a cross section of Nigerians who spoke with BusinessDay called on the Federal Government to impose total emergency rule on the troubled states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

The stakeholders also warned the Federal Government against politicisation of the security meeting, calling also for total overhaul of the intelligence architecture to successfully rein in the lingering insecurity in the country.

However, some businesses have expressed fears that complete emergency rule in the affected states was capable of worsening the economy of the North East, and urged caution.

A former presidential aspirant, who craved anonymity, said although the challenging situation was not beyond government, insincerity on the part of the powers that be and the military personnel may have made nonsense of efforts at ending the orgy of violence in parts of the country.

“My personal opinion is that there is large scale insincerity on the part of government and the military personnel. Again, there is no way you can win this type of war without getting the intelligence correct.

“There must be intelligence architecture that is up to date, and where this is lacking, it makes the fight difficult to win. Look, the Boko Haram insurgence is not beyond government, but it depends on its willingness to do the needful.

“ I come from Borno and Adamawa and I know what I am talking about that there are many things which are contradicting government’s efforts. The more you look the less you see,” he said.

A staunch member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who also asked not to be named, said he suspected three options open to the President, but that he favoured total emergency for a reason.

“You know there is pressure from various quarters on the President. Most people from the North would want him to remove the emergency rule and allow the soldiers remain; a few favour extension of the partial emergency rule; but I favour a total emergency rule, where all the political structures will be removed and laws are suspended.

“In that situation, anybody caught need not to be taken to court; judgment is instant. I think the situation has got to a point where government must not look back but must apply every strategy to restore sanity in the country. No government will allow citizens of the country to be killed like chickens, the way it is happening now,” the PDP man said.

Following the Monday, April 14  bomb blasts at Nyanya Motor Park on the outskirts of Abuja, the abduction of 200 school girls in Borno the following morning, and the expiration last Saturday of the second phase of the emergency rule in the said states, the Federal Government may have decided to review the success or otherwise of  the exercise and seek the way forward.

The security meeting is expected to be attended by all the 36 governors, Namadi Sambo, vice president;  Aliyu Gusau, minister of defence; Sambo Dasuki, national security adviser; Alex Badeh, chief of defence staff;  service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the State Security Services, and the Director-General of  the National Intelligence Agency.

Israel Opayemi, CEO, ChainReactions, urged that the crucial meeting should be de-politicised.

For a meaningful result, Opayemi who is concerned about the insecurity in the country, especially in the North East, called on President Jonathan not to allow the meeting to draw the line between PDP and APC members. “The President should take the position of a statesman and dialogue with the governors and other service chiefs for concrete suggestion to confront the monster”

Imeh Udeme, a security expert said that whatever needed to be done for sanity to return to the North East, high-jacked by Boko Haram, should be done without compromise.

“A lesser measure on the Boko Haram insurgence by Federal Government will be regretted because the terrorist group is a threat to Nigerian sovereignty. How do you think people will have faith on a government that cannot protect the citizens? What if Niger Delta militants or a terrorist group rises from the western or eastern parts, it means the country is gone.

“ So the action taken against Boko Haram today will determine how far the country’s sovereignty will be respected in the future’, Udeme said.

According to him, “Whether Mr. President and the governors approve total State of Emergency, No State of Emergency or Modified State of Emergency, the fact remains that lives, property and investments are lost anytime Boko Haram strikes.

“A responsible government anywhere in the world will do everything to protect its citizens and secure its unity. Safe-guarding lives and property should be the major focus/target in any measure government should choose at the end of the day.  “If total State of Emergency, which the governors fear would strip them of their executive powers is the best option, then it should be enforced without delay.

Going by the situation on ground, especially the determination of Boko Haram to stretch its attacks beyond the three states, coupled with the alleged compromise from some North Eastern powers and even security agents who seem to aid the terrorists with vital security information, nothing but total State of Emergency should be the option; that will effectively check movements and unlawful gatherings, etc.”

Ademola Ogunsanya, a hotel/travel expert, recalled that already, seven hotels and three guest houses had closed down in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. He lamented that a branded hotel chain had to abandon a three-star hotel nearing completion in Maiduguri because the brand owners feared the insecurity, while the developer is already in court for not remitting the money he borrowed from a bank, in line with the agreement.

Shettima Dukar Jallaba, president, Yobe Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in spite of business activities in many parts of the state, business people in the area wanted peace to return.

“We used to produce 250 tons of Gum Arabic annually but we now struggle to produce 50 tons. Farmers here used to produce 10 tons of groundnuts, but we have to work hard enough to produce 2,’’ he said.

For manufacturers, Jallaba said players in the sector left the state as a result of insecurity and incessant power outages, adding that border-related businesses had been closed, thereby foreclosing the possibility of export businesses across the borders of high-risk zones.

In Adamawa in particular, BusinessDay gathered that businesses are still being held back by certain factors within the state.

Moddibbo Abdurrahmam, president, Adamawa Chamber of Commerce, in an exclusive interview with BusinessDay said, “There are checkpoints which slow down business. People who move perishable and durable goods incur high costs due to slow movement. Transporting goods to the South now costs a lot. Before, there used to be night markets, but this does not happen again. You know, sometimes, curfews are imposed and the whole business crumbles. Members are somehow depressed. There are lots of uncertainties’’, he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onyekachi Ubani, chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, said total emergency rule and removal of the governors must be the outcome of the meeting.

Ubani said: “We are criticising the state of emergency in which you allow the governors to be operating alongside military institutions. If you follow the constitution on the issue of state of emergency, you do not allow a parallel governments.”

Gbenga Ojo, a law teacher, told NAN that the renewed onslaught by the insurgents in the troubled states called for “automatic extension’’ of the emergency rule.

Ojo, who is of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), urged the Federal Government to sack all democratic institutions in the states to give the military full control.

“Governance in those areas has completely broken down and the governors are obviously not in control. The Federal Government should make the state of emergency total, and sack all democratic institutions including the governors and the state legislators,” he said.

President Jonathan had on May 14, 2013 imposed emergency rule on the three states in the wake of insurgencies. It was extended on November14, 2013 following the approval of the National Assembly.

Meanwhile,a cross section of Northern lawmakers in the House of Representatives have kicked against the move to extend emergency rule in the North-East region.

President Goodluck Jonathan had on the 14th May 2013 declared State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states as part of measures to curtail the activities of members of Boko Haram.

No fewer than 1,500 people including security operatives have been killed in the series of deadly attacks by the sect, according to Amnesty International.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives endorsed the President’s decision.

Worried by the prevailing situation in the affected states, some of the lawmakers, including Garba Abdullahi, Ibrahim Mahuta and Ali Madaki, expressed concerns over the move to extend the Emergency Rule, called for alternative means towards resolving the crisis, noting that the state of emergency has not achieved its objectives one year after.

They also expressed displeasure over the N2 billion budgetary allocation for the development of the region, despite the intervention of the National Assembly.

While reviewing the security situation in the affected states, Garba Idris Abdullahi (APC, Niger) said: “I won’t support it, and I believe most members won’t support it. They say there’s a state of emergency in place, but we learnt insurgents are being flown with helicopters, and nothing is done.”

Aliyu Madaki (APC, Kano), said “No, I won’t support it (extension of state of emergency). If I should support it, what have they been able to achieve within the last one year of the emergency? Was it not recently that people were killed including a monarch and school children were abducted?

“Just look at the level of killings going on in those emergency states; it’s as if there’s nothing on ground. When you have a state of emergency in place, people’s lives and property should be well protected. But what we’ve seen so far is far from that.

“The security agencies could not contain the situation all this while. So, how do we have another state of emergency when the people there have been denied their rights of free movement, and then they get killed everyday?

“To me, there shouldn’t be any state of emergency again, because I won’t support it. Since they can’t protect the people’s lives and property, they should allow everybody to defend himself with arms. The people should also be very vigilant.”

On his part, Ibrahim Mahuta (Katsina) urged Federal Government to put effective security measures in place that will guarantee safety of lives and property in the areas.

“What is happening in the three emergency states is also happening in many other states. If they want to extend it, they should also declare it in Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Zamfara and others. So far, there’s no any positive impact on the state of emergency. They should just allow democratic structure to continue.

“It’s not about the failure of the governments in those states; they have shown the zeal and will to handle the situation. All the government needs to do now is to take more security men to the states. There’s really no point to extend the state of emergency in those states.

Article Credit: BusinessDay newspaper

Updated 5 Years ago

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Tags:     President Goodluck Jonathan     Borno     Adamawa     Yobe     Emergency rule     bomb blasts     Israel Opayemi