Has the emergency rule declared by the federal government in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States outlived its uses? Ojo M. Maduekwe asks
Next month, the extended emergency rule in the North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe would expire. The presidency is however in a dilemma on whether to extend or terminate it. While the military high command is rooting for its extension, government of the affected states and some northern elites are calling for its termination.
In a recent interview with THISDAY, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), through its spokesperson, Professor Ango Abdullahi, said that the security challenge in the North was politically motivated and that an extension of emergency rule would be purely for political benefits.
“As far as we are concerned, the announcement about this entire emergency rule and so on, appears to be politically motivated. Perhaps this is the reason why they are not taking adequate measures to make sure that there is adequacy of troops, equipment and motivation. From all the statements that are coming out, there is a political motive behind the insurgency and the way it is going. So to us, there is now an indication that this politics is being played by the administration to force itself into power in 2015,” said Abdullahi.
Since May 21, 2013, when the senate passed a resolution by which President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in order to curb terrorism and restore peace in the three states, there has been some recorded progress by the military but still the insurgents have continued to attack. Only recently, the group attacked the Nyanya Motor Park, Abuja, where many people were killed and later over 200 school girls from Government Girls College, Chibok, Borno State were kidnapped.
As surviving victims of the Nyanya blast continue to recover in the hospitals, the whereabouts of over 100 abducted school girls still remain unknown. Though, the federal government has been claiming to be winning the terror war, but with these continued attacks from the Boko Haram sect, it appears that the tactics being used by the government are ineffective, suggesting the need for the extension of the emergency rule . However, this has not gone down well with the affected states. Their argument was that emergency rule has failed to curtail the activities of the terrorists.
The Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, was reported to have said through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Ahmad Sajoh that extending the state of emergency rule would be counterproductive and, what was required were a change of strategy, not an extension of the state of emergency.
“Our position is that we do not support the renewal of the state of emergency in the North-east in general and in Adamawa State in particular. It is under the state of emergency that more people were killed in our state when compared to the period when there was no state of emergency. It is under the guise of the state of emergency that those who have unleashed violence on our people have carried out the most daring attacks,” said Sajoh.
Also, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, called for a review of the strategy in tackling the terrorist menace. In a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Isa Gusau, Shettima said: “We believe that the federal government will continue to do its best to ensure the end of the insurgency and we on our part are prepared to partner with it. A review of strategy will not be out of place.”
The governors also want the emergency rule stopped and troops withdrawn. Although, the affected governors have not come out with any alternative suggestion that could effectively curb a renewed attack from the Boko Haram. The group would most likely resurface as soon as the military pulls its troops out of the states. The military which is supposed to know better has advised against this.
THISDAY investigation had revealed that although, the military is favourably disposed to extending the emergency rule to finally rout Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east, they were considering other options in view of the gathering opposition from the Northern leaders. One option was the invocation of the terrorism law.
THISDAY had in another story reported a top military source as saying that despite the fact that the insurgency in the three states could be tackled with the Terrorism Prevention Act, the Nigerian Army Act and the powers of the National Security Agencies Act, as being contemplated by the federal government, the non-extension of the emergency rule in the terror-stricken states could hamper the routing of the insurgents.
According to the source, the federal government and the opposition should weigh the consequences of lifting the state of emergency in the volatile region before going ahead to do so. “They should weigh the implications of that decision (non-extension of the emergency rule) because if you read the emergency declaration statement of President Jonathan, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was given full military powers to increase troop’s deployment.
“Consequently, you have to bear in mind that lifting the emergency rule automatically implies withdrawal of troops. Now you begin to ask what those opposed to this want, since they are even complaining that there are not enough troops on ground. Can you imagine if we pull out the ones we have, what will remain? Also, what these people don’t know is that most soldiers are looking forward to being withdrawn back to their bases so that they can return to their normal duties. Then all the noise-makers will know that they have shot themselves in the foot.
They don’t even understand the implication of what they are requesting, because as they are complaining that there are not enough troops on ground to cover the area. One of the implications is that the troop’s reduction will begin. The troops are already stretched, and they can be redirected to other areas. Are they saying that the police and normal level of troops can handle the situation? If that is what they want, then that will be fine and let’s see how it turns out,” said the source to THISDAY.
The governors of the affected states’ demand for the removal of emergency rule appears political. Next year is the general election and there are rumours that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may not hold elections in the three states under emergency. If that happens, the governors may not get to exercise their self-imposed powers to anoint a successor. As well, their political career may be hanging in the balance.
One of the terrorist group objectives is to coerce the entire North into adopting a Sharia system. Before the emergency rule, they were succeeding. With reckless abandon they attacked government buildings, especially police stations, and were reported to have hoisted their flags in some parts of the North. The police was helpless and couldn’t curtail their activities. It was the declaration of emergency rule by President Jonathan, giving the military powers to send in soldiers into the states that helped in curtailing the group and driving them into the forest from where they now operate.
Abdullahi of the NEF’s allegation that in almost three years of the insurgency, the federal government has failed to control it, would not be far from the allegation of insufficient soldiers, insufficient equipment and lack of motivation of the troops. Also, the funds allocated to the military for the operation is alleged to being mismanaged.
Instead of canvassing for a complete removal, a change in strategy can work side by side with the emergency rule. The presidency and the military are expected to adopt a holistic approach to combat the insurgency. If the governors’ demands stem from the allegation that the military, even with the increased troop, have not succeeded in taming the Boko Haram group, then they should demand for more troops and better working conditions for the soldiers. They should as well task the military to account for the funds allocated to it and not to ask for the end of the emergency rule.