ACN, Tinubu, Sani kick as NLC, NBA, CAN back action
President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states was greeted with mixed reactions yesterday.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) endorsed the presidential action.
But the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu rejected the decision.
CAN President Ayo Oritsejafor said the decision vindicated its position that only force could end the insurgency.
The Christian body and the ACN called for the immediate scrapping of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue.
Pastor Oritsejafor, in a statement in Abuja said: “With the declaration of a state of emergency in the three states, the amnesty committee is no longer relevant and should be dissolved.
“The declaration of a state of emergency in three northeast states is a justified action and a vindication of CAN’s position that negotiation with terrorists will always end up a futile exercise.
“We are being vindicated that no reasonable agreement can be reached with terrorists,’’ the statement quoted the CAN president as saying.
It described Jonathan as a “true democrat and an advocate of human rights protection’’.
“While saying that the state of emergency declared in the three states is not unexpected, CAN calls on the three concerned governors to reciprocate the kind gesture by co-operating with those charged with the responsibility of bringing down the insurgency,’’ it stated.
Mr Okey Wali, President of the NBA, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview:
“We have no doubt that the President has received fresh intelligence that necessitates a harder measure to be taken to forestall further mindless attacks on Nigerians by insurgents.
“We are indeed satisfied by the decision as it has not eroded the political structure of the three states; suffice it to say that democracy is still in place in those areas.
“Our candid appeal is for the members of the Boko Haram to still leverage on the existing opportunities provided by the Presidential Committee on Amnesty.’’
The NLC President Abdulwaheed Omar said it was a good development that showed that a government exists.
He spoke to reporters at the inauguration of an Airtel Telecommunication Call Centre in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital yesterday.
He said: “I think first of all, we must understand that it is within the responsibilities of Mr. President to take whatever step he deems fit to ensure that there is peace and stability in this country. For Mr. President to have taken that decision would mean that definitely, he must have exploited all avenues and discovered that this is the best option. I want to commend that effort especially because of the way it is carried out. It would ensure that it is directly meant to ensure peace and security rather than being like a political victimisation.
“The pronouncement of the President shows that the executive, the legislature and the judiciary have continued to function.
To rights activist Shehu Sani, emergency rule declaration by the President is “a desperate measure and uncalled for”.
Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, in a statement last night in Abuja, said the militarisation of the three states would promote arbitrariness.
The statement said: “The declaration of the state of emergency by President Jonathan Goodluck in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa is desperate but uncalled for. It is a fruitless exercise that will neither lead to peace nor assist in ending the violence that has bedevilled some parts of northern Nigeria.
“It is an admission of failure on the side of the government to fashion out ways of addressing or tackling the root causes of insurgences, the state of emergency would only give licence to security agencies to sustain their already gross human rights violation and brigandage that has became the war on terror.”
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) described as lacking in original thinking the President’s declaration of emergency rule in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa. It urged the National Assembly to reject it.
In a statement in Abuja yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said if force was capable of ending the Boko Haram crisis, it would have ended a long time ago.
The party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also criticised the measure, warning it can scuttle democracy.
The ACN said while the President was right in expressing outrage over the mindless killings and wanton destruction by the insurgents, he was wrong in proposing more of the same measures that have failed to yield results.
‘’If the medicine given to a patient has not cured his or her illness, is it not futile to prescribe more of the same medicine for the patient? If the declaration of a state of emergency in 15 local government areas in four states in 2011 has not curbed the activities of the insurgents, why extend such measure to other areas? If the use of force in the affected states have failed to curtail the activities of the insurgents, why send in more troops?
‘’There is nothing new in the President’s action. It is more of the same: deployment of more troops to the affected states and the use of tougher, scorched-earth tactics against the insurgents. In the first instance, this stepped-up militarisation of the states amounts to an asymmetric use of force in an environment where the insurgents operate within a civilian population, hence it will ultimately be counter-productive as the death toll will continue to mount while the civilian population – who will be caught in the cross fire – will be alienated.
‘’Secondly, the President should go ahead and disband the committee he recently inaugurated and saddled with reaching out to the insurgents, because by opting to flood the states with more troops under an ill-advised emergency rule, he has succeeded in pulling the carpet from under the Committee’s feet. Who negotiates genuinely with a gun to his head?
The committee’s job is over, the members can as well pack up and go home.
‘’Thirdly, one hopes the President’s action is not linked to the politics of 2015. With the three states militarised, there can neither be electioneering campaign nor voting there. We had warned earlier that as 2015 approaches, the Jonathan administration will increasingly take measures that will make it impossible to hold election in many states The over militarisation of some states in the North, the plan to destabilise the Southwest, using slush funds from the so-called oil pipeline protection contract and the infantile threats from some Niger Delta militants seem to be part of this plan.
‘’Fourthly, what happens if and when the declaration of emergency rule fails to stem the violence, now that the President has gone for broke and played his last card?
‘’In view of the reasons stated above, we hereby reject the declaration of emergency rule in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, and we call on the National Assembly to also reject it and not allow itself to be used to rubber stamp a declaration that is largely cosmetic.
‘’We reiterate our earlier statements that the Boko Haram crisis has its roots in years of bad governance that have produced an army of unemployed, unemployable, disenchanted and demoralised youths who are now ready hands and willing tools for those seeking to perpetrate violence. The unprecedented corruption across the land, as well as injustice and extra-judicial killings are also fuelling this crisis,’’ ACN said.
The party said while the short-term solution to the Boko Haram crisis should be a combination of dialogue and a minimal use of force, the long term measure to deny Boko Haram of willing recruits and make the sect unattractive to anyone is to ensure that the state can adequately meet the yearnings and aspirations of its citizens. And the only way to do this is through good governance that delivers the dividends of democracy to the citizens; stamps out corruption and ensures a just and equitable society.
‘’Boko Haram is like a bad tree. To kill it, it must be uprooted, instead of trimming its branches. The measures announced by President Jonathan on Tuesday will not deliver the killer punch to this reprehensible sect. There is need to think out of the box,’’ it said.
Asiwaju Tinubu said the decision is capable of scuttling democracy.
Tinubu in a three-page statement, said the declaration is a dangerous trend in the art of governance and a deliberate ploy to subvert constitutional democracy.
The ACN Leader said: “The response to the pervasive chaos in the Northern region of the country has been militarisation, mass arrests and extra judicial killings by the Joint Task Force, JTF, a convenient euphemism for an army of occupation seemingly set loose on the people of the localities concerned. “The tenor of the state of emergency declared by the Federal Government yesterday portends danger for the polity. The full militarisation of security operations in these states will compound the already tense situation.”
He held that the full militarisation of security operations in the three states would compound the already tense situation as the invading forces would simply embark on organised pogrom.
His words: “It is now abundantly clear that President Jonathan has finally bared his fangs. By declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, he (Jonathan) has intimidated and emasculated the governors of these states.
“It is a display of unpardonable mediocrity and diabolic partisanship geared towards 2015. Borno and Yobe states have been literally under armies of occupation with the attendant excruciating hardship experienced daily by the indigenes and residents of these areas. This government now wants to use the excuse of the security challenges faced by the governors to remove them from the states considered hostile to the 2015 PDP/Jonathan project.”
The administration, by this action, he said, would be setting in motion a chain of events the end of which nobody can predict as, according to him, experience has shown that actions such as this often give root to radical ideologies and extremist tendencies.
He said: “The present scenario playing out in the country reminds one of the classical case of a mediocre craftsman who continually blames the tools of his trade for his serial failure but refuses to look at his pitiable state with a view to adjusting.”
Tinubu said though the country is adrift with the ship of state rudderless as insurgents have unleashed ferocious attacks on all parts of the country, particularly in Borno and Yobe, the uncoordinated approach adopted by the government betrays a grossly incompetent disposition, which is at variance with the realities in the country.
He said: “No governor of a state in Nigeria is the chief security officer. Putting the blame on the governors who have been effectively emasculated for the abysmal performance of the government at the centre, which controls all these security agencies, smacks of ignorance and mischief.”
“This government has failed, or does not know that it is necessary for it to avail itself of the benefit accruable from exchange of ideas and notes among nations of modern world. Technologically advanced countries will never discard the idea or the need for the establishment of an effective local intelligence outfit. Our suggestions along this path have always been met with suspicion and acerbic criticisms from both the informed and the ignorant alike.”
Tinubu added that militarisation, mass arrests and extra judicial killings by the army of occupation euphemistically called the Joint Task Force (JTF), set loose on the people will only compound the security challenges experienced in these states.
The full militarisation of security operations in these states, he said, will compound the already tense situation. The fact that security operatives are killed cheaply and reprisals from the state find expressions in organised pogroms in the immediate communities will further alienate the people who should ordinarily partner with the government in securing their immediate environments.
Tinubu said an army which invades a community, maiming, raping and killing defenceless civilians will end up radicalising the youths whose parents and younger ones have been wiped out most cowardly and recklessly.
For him, rather than hiding its incompetence in tackling the security challenges through the declaration of state of emergency, the administration should rather encourage the development of local intelligence which will inexorably lead to the practice of true federalism.
“Adopting the use of excessive force against those perceived as harbouring terrorists does not portray this government as possessing the wherewithal to find abiding solutions to the lingering security challenges,” Tinubu said.
He urged the Federal Government not to tinker with the mandate of the governors of the affected states under any guise as doing so is potentially destructive.
“If security of a society is about the protection of lives and property of the citizenry, the involvement of the people is sine qua non to effective intelligence gathering and any measure which seeks to alienate them and in particular their elected representatives should be considered as fundamentally defective,” Tinubu stated.