….insist situation not ripe for such action
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, on Wednesday, deplored the threat by Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Anambra State, should the security situation in the state fail to improve.
In separate interviews with Vanguard, the senior lawyers maintained that such action by FG could worsen the security situation, not just in Anambra State, but in the entire South-East region.
They argued that the situation in Anambra state has not gotten to the stage where President Muhammadu Buhari could invoke his constitutional powers to declare a state of emergency in the state, even as they urged the exploration of other alternatives.
Mohammed Abeny, SAN, said: “I don’t see the situation in Anambra to be worse than what is happening in Borno, Zamfara or even Niger state. Killing is killing, except FG’s decision will be political since the government in Anambra is not the same as the party at the centre.
“Nobody is happy with what is happening in Anambra, but it is the primary duty of government to stop it before talking of declaring a state of emergency.
“It is common knowledge that about 11 LGAs in a state in the North was under Boko Haram. The Governor of the state said so himself, but no state of emergency has been declared there. Then you have Borno and Zamfara.
“I agree that the President has the constitutional power, but it has not reached that stage that he can exercise such power. He has not explored other alternatives. If he is to declare a state of emergency in Anambra, then he should do so in Borno, Zamfara, Niger and other states”.
Likewise, Prof. Epiphany Azinge, SAN, said: “If it has gotten to a point wherein the right-thinking mind of the government, that the only way to restore peace is through the declaration of a state of emergency, I don’t think that it will be unacceptable or untoward.
“However, what people will think is a comparative study, in the sense that state of emergency has not been declared in many parts of the country where there has been a high level of insecurity.
“With what Boko Haram has done in the North East, one ought to have imagined that state of emergency would have been declared there. Many lives and properties have been lost there, with the regular kidnapping of students.
“In South East, what we have seen are the IPOB ordering a sit-at-home. If it graduates to the declaration of a state of emergency, it will worsen the situation.
“I don’t think that such action will serve a purpose. For me, that will be a kind of fire brigade approach that may lead to guerilla warfare. It may lead to a clear-cut war that will not augur well for peace.
“I don’t support what is happening in Anambra. Some of us have had reasons to put off engagements there. But I don’t think the situation warrants the declaration of a state of emergency.
“I would have imagined that such declaration would be made in places where there has been a total declaration of war against the Federal Government. Where territories have been claimed by terrorists.
“I am not convinced that declaration of a state of emergency is the right approach. It is likely going to escalate the situation”, he added.
According to Mr Paul Ananaba, SAN: “I do not believe that FG will declare a state of emergency in Anambra. There is no total breakdown of law in the state. What is going on in Anambra is not beyond what is happening in Borno.
“What is going on in Anambra is not acceptable, but we cannot in a bid to cure one illness, cause more damage.
“I do not support the declaration of a state of emergency. What I think is that FG should strengthen security in the state”.
On his part, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, said: “Declaration of a state of emergency in any part of Nigeria should only be resorted to if there is a true state of emergency in the letters and spirit of the Constitution”.
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