By Clifford Ndujihe, Politics Editor
FOLLOWING security threats to the November 6, 2021 Anambra State governorship election, the Federal Government, Wednesday, threatened to declare a state of emergency in the state to ensure that the poll is held.
The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Malami said that the government has the responsibility to sustain the democratic order and will do the needful including the declaration of a state of emergency in the state to ensure that the election holds.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Tuesday, warned that insecurity in Anambra could harm the governorship poll if not checked.
Speaking at emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said: “During our last quarterly meeting held about four weeks ago on 9th September 2021, we received briefings and reviewed preparations for the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship election. You may also recall that a major concern raised by members was the security situation in the State in particular and the adjoining states in general and how this might affect preparations and possibly the conduct of the election. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated markedly since our last meeting. Many innocent lives have been lost and property destroyed.
“From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold. This is worrisome for the Commission. We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack. Recall that in May this year, our State Office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed. In addition, our store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election,” he stated.
Constitutional conditions for emergency
As it is, the AGF said the government is not ruling out emergency rule to save democracy in Anambra.
Can the Federal Government declare emergency rule in Anambra? Does the current security situation in Anambra sufficient for such a declaration?
The 1999 Constitution provides the ground for how a state of emergency can be declared in Section 305 empowers the president to issue the declaration by way of official gazette to be ratified by the National Assembly. The process could be initiated by a governor of a state upon a resolution of the House of Assembly.
The constitution states: 305(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.
(2) The President shall immediately after the publication, transmit copies of the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation containing the proclamation including the details of the emergency to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall forthwith convene or arrange for a meeting of the House of which he is President or Speaker, as the case may be, to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the Proclamation.
(3) The President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency only when:
(a) the Federation is at war;
(b) the Federation is in imminent danger of invasion or involvement in a state of war;
(c) there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security;
(d) there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger;
(e) there is an occurrence or imminent danger, or the occurrence of any disaster or natural calamity, affecting the community or a section of the community in the Federation;
(f) there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation; or
(g) the President receives a request to do so in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.
(4) The Governor of a state may, with the sanction of a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly, request the President to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the state when there is in existence within the state any of the situations specified in subsection (3) (c), (d) and (e) of this section and such situation does not extend beyond the boundaries of the state.
(5) The President shall not issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in any case to which the provisions of subsection (4) of this section apply unless the governor of the state fails within a reasonable time to make a request to the President to issue such Proclamation.
(6) A Proclamation issued by the President under this section shall cease to have effect:
(a) if it is revoked by the President by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the government of the federation;
(b) if it affects the Federation or any part thereof and within two days when the National Assembly is in session, or within 10 days when the National Assembly is not in session, after its publication, there is no resolution supported by two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly approving the Proclamation;
(c) after a period of six months has elapsed since it has been in force:
Provided that the National Assembly may, before the expiration of the period of six months aforesaid, extend the period for the Proclamation of the state of emergency to remain in force from time to time for a further period of six months by resolution passed in like manner; or
(d) at any time after the approval referred to in paragraph (b) or the extension referred to in paragraph (c) of this subsection, when each House of the National Assembly revokes the Proclamation by a simple majority of all the members of each House.