Daily Trust (Abuja)

2 July 2012

Nigeria: LGs to Jonathan - Don't Extend Emergency

Maiduguri/Jos/Abuja/Minna/Damaturu — The state of emergency declared in 15 local government areas bedevilled by violence expired on Saturday with officials and residents saying there is no need to extend the proclamation.

People in the affected areas who were spoken to said emergency rule has failed because it did not curtail bombings and shootings that led to the declaration in the first place.

President Jonathan issued the proclamation on December 31 for an initial period of six months based on the provisions of the constitution.

The National Assembly yesterday said the emergency rule ended on Saturday since the President has not asked the legislature to approve any extension.

But Daily Trust learnt that the Federal Government is considering some options, including extending the emergency only in areas where violence is spiralling.

The proclamation led to the movement of troops into the affected areas in Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger states.

When asked what happens now that the period of emergency has expired, the Military authorities yesterday said they were awaiting instructions from the Presidency.

"We haven't received any instruction on the state of emergency from the presidency," spokesman for the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, Colonel Mohammed Yerima, told one of our reporters last night.

Daily Trust could not get comments from the Presidency yesterday as Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati did not reply to a text message sent to him.

'Emergency rule has failed'

In Borno, where Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, Ngala, Bama, Biu and Jere LGAs were affected, many residents said they see no reason to extend the emergency proclamation.

"I personally feel that the aim was defeated. The deployment of soldiers on our streets only succeeded in curtailing the fundamental human rights of the people and pauperizing the financial base of the government," Kaumi Umara, a trader in Madina area of Jere, said.

Taxi driver Shehu Alhaji said, "In the last one year, we must be in our homes by 6pm every day. We cannot say the sunset prayers in congregation and many women have died at home because they cannot access medical facilities at night. Freedom has gone and businesses have nosedived."

A soldier who was seen manning a checkpoint along Lagos Street in Maiduguri said he preferred to be in the barracks. "I hate seeing myself here because this is not where we belong. Mixing with civilians has affected our professionalism," he said.

For his part, Governor Kashim Shettima said political solution remains the best option to tackle the wave of violence in the state.

"Governor Kashim Shettima leads a responsible government and no responsible government would like a state of emergency declared in its areas of jurisdiction because an entire society becomes subjected to war-like rules arising from military control which often come with mixed prices, many of which are painful for citizens," Shettima's spokesman Isa Umar Gusau said.

"But what is important now is that there seem to be a headway especially with the recent visit and assurances by the new national security adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, that the Federal Government is sincerely ready to seek political solution to the crisis through dialogue as has repeatedly been advocated by Governor Shettima even before he was sworn in as governor in 2011."

"Governor Shettima's ultimate desire is the peaceful resolution of the crisis such that there can never be any reason for the Federal Government to leave the military on the streets of Maiduguri," he added.

But some people said state of emergency should remain to continue checking the excesses of Boko Haram insurgents.

Janet Ali, a school teacher, said: "Those that are agitating for the withdrawal of the military are kidding. Without their presence, I doubt much if we would be moving on the streets freely."

In Damaturu, trader Lawal Yunusa said emergency rule helped in reducing the rate of crime and so it should be retained.

Two of the chairmen of five local governments affected in Yobe State refused to comment when contacted, and instead referred our reporter to the commissioner for local government who did not reply to text messages sent to him.

'State of emergency made no difference'

In Plateau State, Dr Emmanuel Loman, caretaker chairman of Barkin Ladi LGA, who is also chairman of Plateau State chapter of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), said there was no need to place his council under emergency rule in the first place.

"We had no business being under any state of emergency in the first place and the state of emergency did nothing to help us, so the six months coming to an end will not make any difference," Loman said.

He added that state of emergency "has made no difference".

Spokesman for Governor Jonah Jang, Mr James Mannok, urged President Jonathan not to lump the LGs in Plateau with the others elsewhere because their situations were different.

"Our security situation is not the same, so I appeal that whatever decision the Presidency will take will reflect our peculiar situation adequately," he said.

Engr. Sam Audu, caretaker chairman of Riyom LGA, told Daily Trust yesterday that he and his colleagues were waiting for the Presidency and the National Assembly to decide what happens next.

In Niger State, chairman of Suleja LGA, Yunusa Adamu, said his council has appreciated the Federal Government's gesture for the state of emergency since it has restored peace in the area but urged for an end to it. "We will appreciate if the Federal Government will withdraw the state of emergency since peace has returned," he said.

Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Niger State, Umar Shuaibu, commended the security agencies in the area but argued that there was no need for the 6 pm to 6 am curfew because the bombings that led to the state of emergency in the council were not carried out in the night.

'No extension request from Jonathan'

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, yesterday told Daily Trust via text message that he was not aware of any notice of extension of the state of emergency in the affected areas.

In the House of Representatives, chairman of the committee on Rules and Business Rep. Albert Tsokwa said also there was no communication yet from the President.

"He (President Jonathan) has to request for the extension of the emergency rule as stipulated by the constitution and if he does not write and approval given by the National Assembly it means that by the end of the six months, it has elapsed," he said.

"But if I may speak I in my own personal opinion the emergency rule has failed. It has not served its intended purpose. In fact, it did more damage to the security of the affected local government areas than before its introduction," Tsokwa added.

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