The North on Friday vowed to oppose any plan to impose a state of emergency in any of the region’s crisis torn states.
Borno, Yobe and a few northern states have experienced sporadic violence in the past few weeks.
Over 55 people including policemen and prison officials were killed in Bama, Borno State, last week, after suspected Boko Haram insurgents launched several attacks on the town. A few days later, over 185 people were killed in the Baga area of the state with thousands of houses destroyed.
There were reports that President Goodluck Jonathan, who cut short a foreign trip to tackle the insecurity challenge, might declare a state of emergency in some of the troubled states.
The Presidency on Saturday said the Federal Government was studying the situation in the affected states.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said, “The Federal Government is studying the situations in the affected states and would take decisions that would be in the overall interest of the security of not just the people of the states affected but also of the country. Declaration of state of emergency is a serious thing that should not be speculated about.”
However, the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Northern Elders’ Forum and other stakeholders, who spoke toSUNDAY PUNCH, said they would resist attempts by the Federal Government to apply more force in the bid to quell the insurgency of the region.
They insisted that President Goodluck Jonathan should stick to the plan to grant total amnesty to members of the sect, just the way it was granted to Niger Delta militants.
The ACF said the recent aggressiveness in attacks by Boko Haram members should not warrant a declaration of a state of emergency.
ACF spokesman, Mr. Anthony Sani, said the forum, which is the apex socio-cultural group in the North, had resolved that the recurring violence in region could only be halted by dialogue, thus its opposition to emergency rule.
He said, “I believe the hike in attacks recently, if by the sect, is their own way of playing hard (to get), so that they can secure the best of terms in the ensuing dialogue. You seem to forget what brought about the hankering for dialogue: It was because the use of force had not delivered the desired results. If military might were successful in campaigns against terrorism, nobody would talk about dialogue.
“I want to appeal to Nigerians of all religions, political colorations and of all regions to please give the government and the amnesty a chance.”
Similarly, the Northern Elders’ Forum described speculations about emergency rule in parts of the North as wrongheaded.
The northern elders advised the Federal Government to follow through with the plan to grant amnesty to Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for most of the violent attacks in the region.
The spokesman of NEF, Dr. Paul Unongo, said the Federal Government could not justify a state of emergency in the North, since such a measure wasn’t introduced in the South-South states at the peak of the violence unleashed on the region by Niger Delta militants.
He said, “Government did not declare a state of emergency in the states in Niger Delta. General amnesty was declared and those who wanted to take advantage of it were asked to come out and lay down their arms and get some booties.
“Anybody calling for the declaration of a state of emergency in the North will not be able to justify it. Amnesty has worked in Nigeria. It can still work.”
The National Coordinator, Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, also warned the Federal Government not to declare a state of emergency in any part of the North.
He said, “Some people in the Peoples Democratic Party that are talking about state of emergency are just playing politics because most of the states affected are not PDP states. Borno, Yobe and Nasarawa are not PDP states, only Taraba is. Any declaration now will be nothing but a political manoeuvre to impose the unpopular PDP mandate on these states, which did not vote for PDP in the last election.”
The Second Republic lawmaker said a declaration of state of emergency was the reaction of a failing government.
“There is something suspicious about declaring a state of emergency. The people proposing a state of emergency should give us good reasons. This is because, clearly, government has failed in its fundamental duty. This government has failed woefully.”
Junaid’s view was also echoed by the National Assembly on Friday. The Senate and the House of Representatives ruled out a state of emergency as a solution to the crises in some northern states.
They said an emergency rule would be “premature.”
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, told SUNDAY PUNCHthat lawmakers would not be in a hurry to initiate any call for a state of emergency.
He said it might heat up the polity the more and compound the situation.
“While our committees are working, the House cannot jump the gun to call for a state of emergency.
“We have to wait to receive the reports of our committees, then we take it up from there.
“For now, a state of emergency is premature,” he added.
Leader of the Senate, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, told one our correspondents on Friday on the phone, that the violent killings in parts of the North were not enough to warrant the declaration of a state of emergency.
“A state of emergency is an extreme measure which should be applied as a last resort. The security agencies can handle it and I think they are already on top of the situation,” he said.
Also in opposition to emergency rule, the Congress for Progressive Change, which is the ruling party in Nassarawa State, warned the Federal Government against declaring a state of emergency in the state.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said though the party condemned the killings of policemen in the state by a militia group, it would be wrong to use that as a pretext to declare a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, the Governor of the state, Mr. Tanko Al-Makura, has vowed that those behind the killings of the policemen will be brought to book.
The governor, who spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, assured the families of the dead policemen that their husbands would not die in vain.
“We would get those behind the killings of these heroes. We would not stop at anything to get them. Wherever they are hiding, we would get them,” he said.
On the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in his state, he said, “Governance has not collapsed in the state to warrant that.”
Our correspondents also learnt that northern governors had also vowed to resist attempts to impose a state of emergency on any state in the region.
An aide to one of the governors, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday, said his boss and some of his colleagues were aware of the plan.
He said, “We are aware that certain individuals will want to profit politically from the current sad events in parts of the North, but we will stop them.
“The solution to this problem is not the declaration of a state of emergency but the implementation of the various panel reports and government white papers which government has not had the courage to implement.
“When Governor Ahmed Makarfi issued a White Paper and implemented the panel recommendations on the Kaduna crisis, the problem in the state stopped. We cannot continue to play the ostrich when our house is on fire.”
Meanwhile, the Army has set up a board of inquiry to investigate the role of soldiers in the recent killings in Bama and Baga.
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the investigation team led by a Major General had started work.
However, our correspondents couldn’t get the details of the mandate of the new committee on Friday.
Efforts made to reach the Director of Army, Brig.- Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, were not successful as calls placed to his mobile telephone line did not go through.
Also the Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, could not be reached on his mobile
JD:Well,the president can no longer play Mr Nice Guy with the security issues at hand.He needs to tackle them hands down as things are completely going haywire. There’s a need for him to be ready to offend his so called friends and associates and put the interest of the country first.This country is drifting slowly to the sea of destruction and seems to lack a pilot to take it out of troubled waters .At times like this if a leader is not disposed to asserting yourself and doing the right thing,someone else might jolly well do it for him.