Recently, President Goodluck Jonathan said that Nigeria was currently facing its worst security challenges in recent times. This crisis is in various forms; communal, religious, political and socio-economic with varying degree of casualty, mostly innocent citizens of this country.
On 14 May, President Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northern Nigerian states, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and ordered the immediate deployment of more troops to those volatile states in response to a surge of violence the president says poses a “very serious threat” to Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
In this week’s episode of faceoff, two lawyers, Hannibal Uwaifo and Joe Onyenweuzo debates whether increasing insecurity in Nigeria is a result of leadership or citizen’s failure.
Lawyer and public affairs analyst, Fred Agbaje has said that the imposition of state of emergency on some troubled northern states is comparable to a military coups d’état.
Mr Agbaje, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise daily, said President Goodluck Jonathan did the right thing by not suspending constitutionally elected officials while declaring the emergency rule.
He however said in principle when the President declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, “the existing legal order must give way to the new one because the two cannot operate pari passu or concomitantly.”
Mr Agbaje said President Jonathan should have suspended the executive and legislative arms of government in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states while the state of emergency lasted.
He said though the Nigerian constitution does not empower the President to sack democratically elected officials, it also did not say that the president cannot remove these officials from office during a state of emergency.
The Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati on Wednesday said the president action of declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states does not violate any part of the Nigerian constitution.
Mr Abati, who disclosed this in an interview with Channels Television, said thought the constitution gave President Jonathan the power to declare a state of emergency on any state where there is a breakdown of public order and public safety, it does not empower him to remove democratically elected officials.
President Jonathan had on Tuesday imposed a state of emergency on Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states as a step in curtailing the growing tide of insurgency in northern Nigeria.
In a nationwide broadcast, the President drew his power on section 305(3 (c) (d) (f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, which states that the President shall have power to issue a state of emergency only when “there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety, there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and safety in the federation or any part to require extraordinary measure to restore peace and security or to avert such danger” and there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation.
Watch the video below for the full interview with Mr Abati.
An economist and the Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company, Bismarck Rewane has said that the imposition of emergency rule in some troubled northern states is a positive step in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Nigeria.
Mr Rewane, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Business Morning said in a crisis ridden country, investors expect that the government do nothing, do the right things or do the wrong things.
The economist said Nigerians must abandon the notion that it will only take foreign investors to alter the economic destiny of the country.
He said, “Let us get away from this understanding that foreign investors are going to alter Nigerian’s economic destiny. If domestic investors do not invest in a country, no foreign investor will invest there.
A lawyer, Kenneth Odidika on Wednesday said that corruption is so widespread in Nigeria that the default mode of the citizens of this country is fraud.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Odidika said the declaration of emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states following the incessant violent attacks in these areas is a good move by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The lawyer blamed corruption as responsible for the proliferation of illegal weapons especially those in the control of the rebel groups in Northern Nigeria.
He said, “Our default mode as Nigerians is fraud. These arms and ammunitions are not invincible; they don’t come to Nigeria and then materialize. They are brought in through our borders and I can assure you some of the borders are not even the ones we talk about in Yobe and Adamawa. I’m talking about through our ports and we have Customs people there.”
Speaking on the state of emergency declared on three troubled states in the North, Mr Odidika said this is a sign that President Jonathan is not weak and should serve as a warning to other state governments that have not been able to curtail violence in their domain.
He said, “By virtual of what he did yesterday (Tuesday), it is obvious now to those who thought he couldn’t act that this man could actually act and he could bite.
“If what has happened in Kano continuous, chances is that he will take the same action and even more drastic one.”
A Professor of Criminology, Femi Odekunle has said the declaration of emergency rule in three northern states by President Goodluck Jonathan should have included Kano.
Mr Odekunle, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the president took the right step by declaring emergency rule in an area occupied by some people who are waging war against the state.
He said, “I thought there must be some criteria for declaring a state of emergency on any part of the country. And I was thinking, from all indications, why is Kano for example excluded because Kano had suffered in terms of quantum and quality of terrorist damage like the other states.”
Mr Odekunle argued that based on the frequency of attacks in Kano, President Jonathan should have included it among Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states that are currently under emergency rule.
In what appeared to be about the boldest step taken by the Federal Government in tackling the insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria, President Jonathan on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
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.
Right activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana on Monday said the presence situation in the country is nothing short of a full blown war.
Mr Falana, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said a situation where a clash between terrorists and security operatives led to the death of over 187 people; where unknown cultist ambush and slaughter over 40 police officers; and where a Supreme Court Judge is presently looking for his wife, child and driver can be nothing short of war.
“There is a war everywhere; that is why as Nigerians, we cannot afford to leave the Federal Government to fight this war; they cannot,” he said. Mr Falana said though the country is facing a huge war it is ill-prepared to fight.
“These boys have more sophisticated weapon than our armed forces,” he said.
The lawyer said the Federal Government is playing politics with the fight against terrorism by not providing the police with adequate equipment to fight insurgents and criminals.
He said, “A lot of money was budget for security and defence this year, what has happened to the fund if by the middle of May you haven’t passed the budget? It is tantamount to shedding crocodile tears if we simply express regret anytime policemen or soldiers are killed when we didn’t armed them, when we didn’t sufficiently equip them.
“How many of our soldiers and policemen have learnt anything about counter-terrorism? It is a new terrain. How many of them are trained to fight or participate in guerrilla warfare because that is what is going on.
“Are we saying we are so poor that we cannot acquire helicopters to conduct aerial surveillance on a daily basis in these areas?
“Do you know that the policemen and most of the soldiers sent to combat these boys have no bullet proof? It is that bad. You just simply give them Ak47.”
The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima has said that no ransom was paid for Monday’s release of Nigeria’s first Petroleum Minister, Shettima Ali Monguno, who was abducted on Friday.
The governor said Mr Monguno, who has since been re-united with his family, could not have paid any money to his abductors since he spent all his money on philanthropy, hence had nothing to give to the abductors.
“Obviously Monguno was a philanthropist, who had spent all he had in the cause of humanity.
“So the issue of money was out of it because the family had no money to pay,” the governor said.
Mr Shettima said that the abductors of Mr Monguno made contact with the family after several appeals from Nigerians for his release.
He added that the abductors were touched by the numerous appeals and they decided to release him unconditionally.
The governor said, “They contacted his family after several appeals from Nigerians for his release.
“But his family also made an appeal to the abductors to release him.
“They sent words that he should be picked in the morning, so we sent his personal aides with a vehicle to get him home.”
The governor told newsmen in Maiduguri that Mr Monguno was released by his abductors on Monday morning in Kirenowa, in Marte Local Government Area of the state.
Gunmen had abducted Mr. Monguno after Friday prayers at his mosque in Mafoni, Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
Mr. Monguno was also a one-time Minister of Internal Affairs, as well as Minister of Defence in charge of the Nigeria Air Force.
The European Union on Tuesday said it would continue to support Nigeria “until terrorism is defeated” in the country.
The Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS, David MacRae said this at a media luncheon hosted by the commission in Abuja.
Mr MacRae, however, said that terrorism should be tackled within the ambit of the rule of law.
He commended the Federal Government for its recent initiatives in addressing the issue.
“We welcome recent steps taken by government in recent weeks towards addressing insecurity in parts of the north, including the creation of two committees with the mandate to take a holistic look on radicalisation and factors that fuel it.
“The EU is convinced that a comprehensive approach based on security, good governance, development and improvement of social conditions is key to fighting terrorism and radicalisation”, he said.
The EU Ambassador also condemned the killing in Baga community of Borno state adding that measures should be put in place by the government to protect the lives and property of citizens.
He stated that those responsible for the action should be brought to justice accordingly.
“EU welcomes the decision of the Nigerian authorities to launch a full scale investigation into the Baga incident and is looking forward to thorough inquiry and bringing to justice anyone who may be responsible for any unlawful killings and conduct,” he added.
A special meeting of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) is scheduled to hold on Thursday April 25, 2013 at Niger State Governors’ Lodge in Abuja. A statement signed by Coordinating Chairman, Forum of Secretaries to the Governments of Northern States, Saidu Ndako Idris disclosed that the NSGF will receive the report of the Northern States Committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security.
The statement reiterated the Forum’s commitment to put an end to the unacceptable wanton carnage as well as security challenges in the region by collaborating with all relevant stakeholders.
The statement commended members of the Committee for their sacrifices and commitment towards concretizing and expanding peace-building process across the region.
It will be recalled that the Committee was inaugurated in August last year by the Chairman of the Forum, Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, Governor of Niger State to look at issues related to genuine reconciliation and lasting peace in the region.
The trial of the suspected bomber of Thisday Newspaper’s office in Kaduna, Mustapha Umar could not commence at the Federal High Court in Abuja as his lawyer, Nureni Sulaiman said that he had just been briefed by the suspect.
The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola citing the interest of fair hearing, consequently adjourned the case till 29 April.
Mr Umar was accused of bombing SOJ Plaza in Kaduna state occupied by Thisday, The Moment and The Sun Newspapers.
At the last hearing, the suspect was represented by Felix Umai and Mohammed Umar, both of Manga chambers in Abuja; he however had changed counsel as he was represented at the resumed hearing by Mr Sulaiman who told the court that he was just briefed on the case in court.
Before the adjournment, the prosecutor, Simon Labaran had asked the court to hear his application to exclude members of the public except the press and the parties to the case, from hearing the proceedings.
The defence counsel however objected saying that the constitution mandated the trial to be in the open.
The judge therefore directed the defence counsel to file his response to the application. He also directed him to file the defence of his client to the charges and front load it to enable the court handle the case with dispatch.
He also ordered that the suspect be remanded in Kuje prison even as he directed the prison officials to allow the suspect access to his lawyer and family to enable him prepare his defence adequately.
Justice Ademola also directed the prison officials to make sure that the accused was brought to court at the appropriate time.
The suspect is been charged on a one count of terrorism related act.
He was alleged to have driven a white Honda academy car with registration number AL306MKA with improvised explosives devices into the premises of SOJ Plaza and detonated same.
The leader of extremist group, Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau has claimed in a statement that his group had “not committed any wrong to deserve amnesty.” “Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon,” he said, listing what he described as the state’s “atrocities” against Muslims.
The Hausa language audio recording was distributed by email in a manner consistent with previous Boko Haram messages, and the voice was similar to that of previous Shekau statements.
President Goodluck Jonathan last week formed a panel to look at the possibility of offering an amnesty deal to the Islamists, whose insurgency has left more than 3 000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the military Joint Task Force (JTF).
Some northern religious and political leaders have been urging President Jonathan to grant an amnesty to members of Boko Haram as they say the army’s response to the insurgency is not bringing peace.
In 2009, former President Umar Musa Yar Adua granted an amnesty to thousands of militants wreaking havoc in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the south. The violence fell dramatically but there are worrying warnings of further unrest in the Delta, analysts say.