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State-of-emergency in Anambra: Legal experts, others dismiss Malami’s gaffe

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…Say it will be very suspicious It has not gotten to that point – Ananaba (SAN)
…It will turn out Buhari’s greatest undoing – Oshoma Bid to take Anambra by very means but will fail – Ubani
…It’s all about politics, they cannot succeed – Adinuba PDP, Falana (SAN) condemn move

LEGAL experts have continued to dismiss Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami’s indication while briefing State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday that federal government is considering every option available to it in addressing recent violence in parts of Anambra State ahead of the November 8 gubernatorial election.

  He said that government is also pondering a state-of-emergency as a last resort.

  Malami said the measure could also protect the sanctity and integrity of the governorship election.

  According to him, no counter response mechanism including declaration of a state of emergency may be ruled out in federal government’s determination to ensure a hitch-free exercise.

  “When our national security is attacked and the sanctity of our constitutionally guaranteed democracy is threatened, no possibility is ruled out. As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure the sustenance of our democratic order. As a government, we have a responsibility to provide security to life and properties.

So, within the context of these constitutional obligations, of the government or the desire to establish democratic norms and order, there is no possibility that state of emergency is out ruled. The government will certainly do the needful in terms of ensuring that our elections are held in a Anambra in terms of ensuring necessary security is provided, and in terms of ensuring protection is accorded to lives and properties.

So, what I’m saying in essence, no possibility is out ruled by government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra holds, and you cannot out rule possibilities inclusive of the possibility of declaration or state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.

So, our position as a government is if these elections are going to hold, necessary security, in terms of democratic order, must certainly prevail for the purpose of this election,” Malami said.

  But responding to the Attorney-General’s comment, legal experts who spoke to National Light appraised it as an embarrassment to the state and the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. They also deemed it a travesty and dangerous hint that could jeopardise Nigeria’s democracy.

  Reacting to the development, a former Vice President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA),  Monday Onyekachi Ubani said Malami’s statement drips of a bid to take Anambra by any means. But he reasoned that it will fail given its demerits.

  “Malami said he wants to declare state-of-emergency in Anambra State. But it’s a constitutional issue. The executive does not have powers to just declare state-of-emergency, because the input of National Assembly, particularly senate, is also required. 

  There are conditions to fulfill before you can declare state-of-emergency. You cannot do so on your whims and caprices. There are certain basic conditions. One, there must be total breakdown of law and order before you can declare state-of-emergency. That has to be satisfied. Two, the issue of input of senate has to be made, for you to declare state-of-emergency and it becomes effective. Three, there is no way for you to begin to engage in selective application of state-of-emergency and expect anyone to support government.

  We’ve had serious security issues more precarious in North East states of Borno and Yobe where there has been total breakdown of law and order which goes on through daily killings,” he said.

  Although Ubani said he was not aware of the final publication of list of candidates by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today, he said coinciding with Malami’s comment yesterday suggested a selfish agenda.

  “I am not aware that INEC will tomorrow (that is today) publish final list of candidates to the electorate. But that’s why I said the move is more of politics. And my conclusion is that these guys are playing politics with state-of-emergency,” he continued.

  In his own reaction, a Lagos State based frontline lawyer and social activist, Liborus Oshoma said declaration of state-of-emergency will turn out Buhari’s greatest undoing, compound present problems.

  “State-of-emergency no longer means the president can dismantle the constitutional order. Attorney-General lacks the power to declare of state-of-emergency. For you to legally do so, the state House of Assembly must have been unable to sit and they’ll now mandate the governor to invite National Assembly to declare state-of-emergency. Hence, they should have done so in Kaduna, Borno, Yobe, even Imo. The best thing for the president is to declare state-of-emergency generally in the nation because of nationwide insecurity,” he said. 

  Commenting on the hint of state of emergency, Anambra State’s  Commissioner of Information, Mr. C. Don  Adinuba said there is no rational behind such a thought as facts around current development in the  State do not justify it. He wondered why the attorney-general would imagine that.

  “There are not more 15 causalities in Anambra State which is less than a fraction of what we have in States like Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Zamfara among other state. Where would anyone derive the idea of declaring a State of Emergency in Anambra State? What is the basis for a State of Emergency? Is it about the approaching election in Anambra? If that is the argument, have we not had elections in the country even in the midst of bomb blasts and shooting down of aircrafts. The 2019 general election was held after bomblast and air crash. Again, even foe and adversary know that the killings we have in Anambra are politically-motivated. So, is this another was of handing over the state to the people who are causing the havoc?” Adinuba asked.

  In its own reaction, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) asked All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to perish the thought of imposing a state of emergency in Anambra State.

  PDP made its reaction through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who said  the move to foist an emergency rule in Anambra state was a ploy by the APC-led government to suppress the people, manipulate the process and rig the governorship election for the APC and its candidate.

  Also a senior advocate of Nigeria, Paul Ananaba, said the problem has not gotten to that point. He called Malami’s hints of state-of-emergency a joke taken too far.

Equally, Alliance on Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has declared that President Muhammadu Buhari does not have the power to remove an elected governor of a state.

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