The Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a human and environmental rights advocacy group, having keenly followed the political situation and development in the Southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria, especially in the light of the coming governorship election in Anambra State billed for November 6, 2021, regrets the spate in threats to life and killings of certain politically exposed persons in the state. This regret too, the Foundation strongly expresses over the worrying security trend in the whole of the Southeast region where the agitation for separatism has heightened being contained with kinetic measure by the federal government, and in some instances, with the help of state governments.
FENRAD, heretofore, issued a release where it called for an end to the sit-at-home order, the enforcement of which has come with major and dire economic consequences to the region and as well as invasion of schools and attack on WAEC and NECO candidates in the region. The Foundation also understands that given the timing of the Anambara election, considering the security situation in the Southeast following air raids by Nigeria Air Force, NAF at Orlu, Imo State, in search of ESN operatives and hideouts, and given also an earlier threat of election boycott by IPOB only recently said to have been relaxed by the separatists themselves, the Anambara polity, just like that of the Southeast and the entire federation is politically charged and tensed. There is a palpable fear among the electorate given how the sit-at-home order has been observed where properties and businesses became targets of arsonists masquerading as enforcers. The situation requires confidence building than bringing the state under any martial law or military jackboot in the name of emergency. This is what FENRAD wishes to address together with all the recent happenings in the state and region; the latest being Malami’s statement.
Anambara, FENRAD recalls, has witnessed threats to life and killings in the last two weeks, the most worrisome being that of Dr. Chike Akunyili, widower of the indefatigable late Prof. Dora Akunyili, at Nkpoor. Also had police and other security agencies’ unit come under attack with personnel lives lost. While this is the status quo of security in Anambara and Southeast, FENRAD refuses to accept that Anambara or any state and part of the geopolitical zone is due for emergency declaration as Malami, Chief Law Officer of the federation, seemed to have implied.
There are constitutional requirements under which emergency could be declared, and section 305, subsections 1 to 6 (Sec. 305, (1)-(6)) are not silent about this. According to the section and subsections under review, the governor shall write to the president who is the commander-in-chief, after the State House of Assembly of the affected state has voted for such move with two-thirds majority, that the situation existing in the state requires emergency rule (see subsection 4 of the same section 305 under review for further clarification). Again, in subsection 3 of Section 305 (305(3)), only when there is invasion, war, breakdown of public peace and safety shall the president transmit a gazette to the National Assembly to the effect that emergency is to be declared in the federation or part/s thereof and whereupon the National Assembly shall, with two-thirds majority votes, pass a resolution to that effect. In all of this, Malami’s office was never contemplated in the 1999 constitution, as amended, when it has to do with emergency rule! Why is Malami who is not the national security adviser suggesting a would-be emergency in Anambara? From where is he deriving such powers? Is the security threat in Anambara worse than that in Kebbi, Jigawa, Borno, Plateau and Kaduna states? Or is same worse than Katsina, the home state of President Buhari himself where students and minors had been abducted with reckless abandon and where it is alleged that ransom is being paid bandits to ensure release?
While the security situation in Anambara and entire Southeast is this worrisome, it does not require emergency rule in the state and region. FENRAD calls for a regional dialogue involving all the political gladiators and stakeholders, governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, faith-based and cultural leaders in Southeast and Anambara State to see that all parties commit to peace as happens in every election. What is happening in the region, though multifaceted, FENRAD believes, could have political undertone among supporters of the 18 office seekers.
The Foundation wishes to state that the recently flagged off of ‘Operation Golden Dawn’, as codenamed, though welcomed, should follow all rules of engagement. Operations Golden Dawn, Enduring Peace and Still Water have all been rolled out by the army to boost national security all over the nation, as FENRAD learns. Security and welfare of the populace is paramount as enshrined in Sec 14, (2)(b) of the 1999 constitution, so FENRAD does not see wrong in any peaceful operation in the region that would make the Yuletide season worthwhile. There is now therefore a crying need to ensure that activities of unknown gunmen are unravelled and peace restored in the region. But nothing, the Foundation warns, should be done to infringe on the rights of citizens and businesses in the state and region. This is so because Operation Python Dance which enforcement came with violations and infringements is still fresh in the memory of citizens and residents of the region, a horrible lived experience.
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Barr. Akande Femisi
Head Corporate Accountability and Human Rights Enforcement
Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria