State of Emergency unnecessary, says Ozekhome


mike_ozekhomeA Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Mike Ozekhome, on Wednesday said that the declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was unnecessary.

Ozekhome told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview that “the move is unnecessary as the country is not at war or in imminent danger of invasion”.

He said that the order given to the military to take charge of security situations in the three states was only an adoption of stiffer measures and not a state of emergency.

According to him, section 305 of the 1999 Constitution does not permit the declaration of state of emergency just because a part of the country is facing security challenges.

The Senior Advocate said: “I condemn the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states. It is unnecessary and uncalled for.

“Under section 305, before a state of emergency can be declared, it must be evident that the country is in a state of war or is in imminent danger of invasion.

“Section 305 does not permit the declaration of state of emergency simply because a part of some states, not even the whole state, are facing security challenges.’’

He said that Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution provided that the intention to declare state of emergency should first be published in a Federal Government Gazette.

He explained that after the publication, the National Assembly ought to sit at a plenary session to decide if there was need for declaration of the state of emergency.

“Therefore, Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution was not obeyed before the proclamation of the state of emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“I would therefore say that since he did not follow due procedure, it is not a declaration of state of emergency, but an adoption of stiffer measures for the protection of lives and property in those states.’’

He also expressed fear that the deployment of more military troops to the affected states would lead to the death of innocent people, adding that it would amount to a violation of the rights of citizens.

Meanwhile, Mr Tosin Adeyanju, Executive Director, Conscience Nigeria (CN), an NGO, on Wednesday cautioned the military against human rights abuses as they deploy in the three states.

Adeyanju also advised the armed forces to respect the rules of civil engagement in its operation to avoid violation of human rights.

He was reacting to the state of emergency proclaimed on Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday May 14.

The activist, however, commended the Federal Government for declaring the emergency rule to curb insurgency and terrorism in the affected states.

Adeyanju said: “The military must respect rules of engagement in its operations and respect rights of citizens to avoid human rights violation.

“Their rules of engagement must be clearly spelt out in conformity with the very high standards of International Human Rights Law.”

He said that the institutionalisation of human rights in the operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces would not only be required, but must be seen as a matter of utmost urgency.

Also reacting, a former Speaker of the Osun House of Assembly, Mr Adejare Bello, called on the political class in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to give maximum support to the new security arrangements.

Bello told NAN in Osogbo that the fact that the governors and the political structures remained in the affected states was commendable.

“The affected governors should not hinder security operations, rather they should see it as an opportunity to offer necessary support,” he said.

Bello said that President Goodluck Jonathan was right to invoke section 305 subsection 1 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria in taking the decision.

He said, “The state of insecurity in the country has reached a level where it should not be handled with kids gloves”.

In their reactions, the people of Adamawa have expressed shock over the declaration of the state of emergency in the state.

A cross section of them, who spoke to NAN in Yola, wondered why Adamawa was included in the emergency arrangement.

They, however expressed their “total support” and urged for calm to enable the programme succeed in achieving the desired goal for peace and security of the state.

Malam Ahmad Sajoh, a public commentator, urged the people to accept the development in good faith, adding that the president might have taken the action based on the proximity of Adamawa to Bornu and Yobe.

He said that given the nature of the crises in Borno, particularly Bama town close to Adamawa, there is possibility that whenever the clamp down start on the insurgents in Borno, they would relocate to Adamawa.

Sajoh also urged the security personnel to be deployed to Adamawa, to observe the rules guarding their engagement directed by Mr President for them to “enjoy the full support of the people”

“I also want to advice against imposition of strenuous curfew that will cripple economic activities in the state,” Sajoh said.

Also commenting, a veteran journalist, Malam Abdullahi Nosweat, urged the security personnel to respect the constituted authorities in discharging their duty.

He said that by adhering to the rule of their duty, the people would see them as “protectors and not aggressors”.

Nosweat said: “What we have in Adamawa is just a pocket of problems when compared to other states that escaped the emergency rule. All the same, we should see the wisdom in the president’s action and support the measure taken.”

Alhaji Umaru Dantakarda and Mr James Ibrahim, both politicians, simply called for prayers for “God’s guidance” in bringing peace in the state in particular and the country in general.

Mr Collins Nwachukwu, Organising Secretary, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in Imo, said the action of the presidency was imperative for the unity of the country and protection of its integrity.

“It is the right to curtail the rate of wanton destruction of lives and property that had gone on unabated in the North, terrorism and insurgency had cost the country billions of naira,” he said. .

Nwachukwu said that it was the responsibility of any responsive government to ensure the protection and defence of its citizens at all costs.







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