In what appears to be about the boldest step taken by the Federal Government in tackling the insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in three states, namely: Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
In a nationwide broadcast, President Jonathan said the growing insecurity in these troubled states compelled him to exercise his powers as enshrined in Section 305 Subsection 1 of the Nigerian Constitution, which empowers him as the chief security officer of the country to declare a state of emergency in any troubled area.
The President said the state of emergency is a necessary step to halt the insurgency of the dreaded Boko Haram members who have turned down the offer of dialogue and amnesty extended to them by the Federal Government.
Describing the sect’s activities as a calculated attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the country and as a declaration of war, President Jonathan said the activities of the terrorists have “prevented the government from performing its constitutional responsibilities” and caused fear among Nigerians.
Click HERE to read the full text of President Jonathan’s speech.
The Boko Haram sect has been terrorising residents of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, raiding security and government establishments. On 16 April, the group raided Baga in Borno State, a town near Lake Chad that sparked clashes with soldiers, resulting in the death of nearly 200 people.
The attacks by the sect members, which have killed hundreds since 2009, involved suicide blasts as well as coordinated gun and bomb assaults on the security forces and other symbols of authority. The recent attacks in the North-East have raised concern about the increasingly brazen tactics used by the insurgents, who have insisted they are fighting to create an Islamic state in mostly Muslim northern Nigeria.
They also stormed the commercial centre of Bama, also in Borno State, in a convoy of seven vehicles, launching coordinated pre-dawn attacks on the military, police and several government buildings.
The Boko Haram conflict is estimated to have cost 3,600 lives since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Under pressure over his approach to containing the violence, President Jonathan created a panel to seek an amnesty deal with the insurgents.
The declaration of state of emergency in the three states came barely hours after the amnesty panel, headed by the Minister for Special Duties; Kabiru Turaki met with President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa for what was later referred to as a “frank talk” on government’s position in dealing with the insurgents.
Governors Oppose Emergency
The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) had earlier kicked against the imposition of state of emergency in the troubled states in the North, insisting that the federal government should “ignore the ongoing agitation for a state of emergency in some parts of the country.”
“These requests are being made by people who do not wish our country well and who are bent on plunging the country into a deeper crisis,” the governors noted.
The Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) also joined the calls against the declaration of state of emergency in the crisis-ridden northern states. The group had enjoined the President to eschew such a move, but instead explore “historical perspectives and contemporary conflict resolution methodologies for consideration before taking such a far-reaching decision.”
The governors warned that a state of emergency would further accentuate the high-handedness of the security operatives in the region which has been consistently criticised by the international community.