Emergency Rule is Declared in 3 Northern States
President Goodluck Jonathan
•PDP, CPC, Geidam, others back proclamation
President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday declared an indefinite quasi-state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States and ordered the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, to deploy more troops in the states to maintain law and order and bring to an end the impunity of insurgents and terrorists.
Jonathan disclosed this in a nationwide live broadcast in which he also directed Ibrahim to use the entire arsenal at his disposal to arrest and detain suspected terrorists, take over any suspicious building and detain persons suspected to be in possession of arms.
The details of the proclamation, which the president said would be transmitted to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, however, did not provide for the removal of the governors and other elected officials of the affected states who will continue to discharge their constitutional responsibilities under emergency rule.
Jonathan’s declaration of emergency immediately got the backing of Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam; the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo.
One of the affected governors, Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State who was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja Tuesday afternoon to meet with the president, said he would not be cowed by the challenges in the state.
His counterpart from Adamawa, Alhaji Murtala Nyako, was also at the villa Tuesday evening to confer with the president.
Invoking the powers conferred on him by Section 305(1) of the 1999 Constitution, Jonathan insisted that it had become necessary to take this extraordinary measure, which will run side by side the ongoing efforts at dialogue and persuasion.
Jonathan, who stated that this measure had become necessary because terrorists and insurgents had constituted themselves into threats to the sovereignty of the country and thereby declared war against it, added that as a responsible government, he would not tolerate these actions.
Alluding to the “protracted security challenges in some parts of the country, particularly in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Plateau and most recently Bayelsa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa States,” the president specifically condemned the killing of security operatives by the Ombatse cultists in Nasarawa State,” adding, “No effort or expense will be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those who had a hand in the killing of the operatives.”
He said: “Already, some northern parts of Borno State have been taken over by groups whose allegiance is to different flags and ideologies.
“These terrorists and insurgents seem determined to establish control and authority over parts of our beloved nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country. In many places, they have destroyed the Nigerian flag and other symbols of state authority and in their place, hoisted strange flags suggesting the exercise of alternative sovereignty.
“They have attacked government buildings and facilities. They have murdered innocent citizens and state officials. They have set houses ablaze, and taken women and children as hostages.”
The president said the actions amounted to a declaration of war and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian state and threaten her territorial integrity, “which his administration as a responsible government will not tolerate.”
He admonished the political class, including the three governors, whose states were affected by the proclamation, to cooperate with security agencies, adding that those directly or indirectly collaborating with terrorists and insurgents to unleash terror will be fished out and dealt with.
The president observed that the administration had previously approached the Boko Haram insurgency through a multi-tracked approach through actions, which included persuasion, dialogue and widespread consultations with the political, religious and community leaders in the affected states.
“We exercised restraint to allow for all efforts by both state governors and well-meaning Nigerians to stop the repeated cases of mindless violence.
“Yet the insurgents and terrorists seek to prevent government from fulfilling its constitutional obligations to the people as they pursue their fanatical agenda of mayhem, mass murder, division and separatism.
“While the efforts at persuasion and dialogue will continue, let me reiterate that we have a sacred duty to ensure the security and well-being of all our people and protect the sovereign integrity of our country.
“Therefore, we shall, on no account, shy away from doing whatever becomes necessary to provide the fullest possible security for the citizens of this country in any part of the country they choose to reside.
“We have a duty to stand firm against those who threaten the sovereign integrity of the Nigerian state. Our will is strong, because our faith lies in the indivisibility of Nigeria,” he said.
He urged the political leadership in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States to cooperate fully with the armed forces and police to ensure that the exercise succeeds.
“We call on the citizenry to cooperate with our security agencies to ensure a return to normalcy within the shortest possible time.
“I am again approaching our neighbouring countries, through diplomatic channels, as done in the recent past, for their cooperation in apprehending any terrorist elements that may escape across the border.
“Nigerians are peace-loving people; these sad events perpetrated by those who do not wish our nation well have not changed the essential character of our people,” he stated.
In line with the president’s directive, THISDAY learnt that 10 armoured personnel carriers and about 100 truckloads of soldiers entered Borno and Yobe States Tuesday.
Supporting the declaration of the emergency rule in his state and two others, the Yobe State governor welcomed the decision since it was aimed at bringing peace, which has eluded the state for years.
Gaidam said the reasons for the president's action was clear and could not be wished away.
The governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Abdullahi Bego, said: "Over the past few years, the problems of insurgency and criminality in Yobe State and other parts of the north have led to many deaths and injuries and caused untold hardship to millions of innocent people. The Yobe State Government, under His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, has done and continues to do everything within its power to ensure peace and security and support the security agencies in their task of protecting lives and property.
"As everyone knows, there is no alternative to peace. The Yobe State Government therefore agrees with Mr. President on the need to take more effective measures to address the problem of insecurity in the country. The good people of Yobe State should note, however, that the proclamation of a state of emergency by Mr. President does not affect the political structures in the state."
The governor urged the people to continue with their usual support to and cooperation with security agents to fast track the resolution of the security crisis in the state.
On its part, the PDP said the president’s decision was aimed at restoring stability in the affected states.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, on the state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, PDP said: “The PDP supports the president on all actions that will restore stability, peace and progress in the body polity. And we commend him for showing effective leadership. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.
“We are 100 percent behind the president’s action and we call on all responsible citizens to rally round the security officials of the nation at this trying time. With President Jonathan, Nigeria will overcome our security challenges.”
The CPC also threw its weight behind the president, saying he was justified in taking the action.
The party's National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, who reacted to the president's speech in a telephone interview with THISDAY, said the dire nature of the security situation in the affected states might have warranted the measure.
"Yes, the president has full view of things more than anyone does by virtue of his privileged position. He is empowered by the Nigerian constitution to declare a state of emergency in these states. The fact that the political structures have not been dismantled makes it different from what one of his predecessors did.
"The situation in these states is dire and it behoves all of us as criticizes to rally round the president and ensure that peace is restored to the region. We hope this latest action will bring the elusive peace, " the party said.
In his reaction, Obanikoro, who is now Chairman, Industrial Training Fund (ITF), commended the president for the declaration of emergency rule in the three states, saying his action was right politically, morally and religiously.
He said the action was long overdue, adding that the president has not only acted in good faith, but has taken a patriotic step that would go a long way in the political history of the country in the quest for lasting peace in the north.
“Thank God the president has done the right thing politically, morally and religiously. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost unjustly as a result of the madness and recklessness of a few disgruntled elements. They have negatively impacted and eroded our values, our way of life and the integrity of our country,” he said.
On his part, Keyamo 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 enter into dialogue with the federal government.
“The primary duty of any government is to protect lives and property and it is only right that government should dig deep to find a lasting solution to this ceaseless carnage.”
However, Keyamo added some caveats to his statement, cautioning the government against politicising its action in the three states.
He added that the military must be careful at all times not to trample on the fundamental rights of innocent citizens in the affected states, so that they do not become the scourge rather than solution.
He also called on the president to follow all the steps required in Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to legitimise his action.
Meanwhile, the Borno State governor Tuesday challenged himself and his Yobe counterpart not to be subdued by the security challenges in their states.
Shettima, who was responding to questions from State House correspondents after his meeting with the president, said they had come to “cross-pollinate our ideas with Mr. President on how to move the nation forward. That in a nutshell was what brought us here to cross fertilise our ideas with Mr. President.
On the security situation in Borno, Shettima said it was stable, while adding, “I have repeatedly said it is a temporary eclipse in Borno. We shall start shining again very soon. Don't worry. We shall get over it. We will get over it