• Politicians dump SUVs for bullion vans ahead of election
• FG’s threat of emergency rule self-indictment, says Afenifere
• Other groups may emerge to counter IPOB in Southeast, Umahi warns
• You can’t stop ‘sit-at-home’ order, IPOB replies Southeast govs
• Falana: Emergency rule does not empower Buhari to remove Anambra gov
At a time when campaign activities should be fast paced ahead of November 6 governorship election in Anambra State with candidates doing all to woo voters, there’s a lull pervading the length and breath of the state, as political gladiators recline to watch unfolding developments.
Only yesterday, the Federal Government threatened to declare a state of emergency if the security situation in the state does not improve.
There are strong indications that scarcity of bullion vans may have hit banks in Anambra as an increasing number of governorship candidates and other well-to-do citizens have literally abandoned the comfort of their SUVs for the bellies of armoured cash-carriers to embark on campaign activities, however, on a low scale.
Others have resorted to use of commercial vehicles painted in the colours of commuter buses in the state.
Aside from the ‘scarcity’ of bullion vans, some of the trappings expected of an election are currently missing. For instance, most governorship candidates who had been barely visible on the campaign train, have withdrawn totally.
Campaign billboards that usually compete for space have vanished. Campaign posters, radio jingles and other forms of commercial placement in the media are also visibly absent.
“Where are the branded buses, T-shirts and wrappers of political parties? They have disappeared from circulation. There are no hyped political meetings. Only private meetings and interaction. That is how far the killings have reduced the governorship election to,” a resident, Mr. John Onyia, told The Guardian yesterday.
It was also gathered that certain elements, in an attempt to scuttle the election, were reported to have driven round the state, warning landlords on the implication of allowing their facilities to be used as “campaign office or political gathering.”
“They did not say people should not give their facility but they warned that should any campaign poster, party flag or political jingle be heard in the place, the person should be ready to face the consequence,” Onyia disclosed.
OWING to the gathering dark clouds, especially after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expressed worries over upsurge in violent attacks, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, told State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that government might wield the big stick and invoke emergency rule in the state.
The minister said government has the responsibility to sustain the democratic order and would do the needful in terms of ensuring that the election holds. He, however, said that nobody should rule out any possibility, including the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
He said: “When our national security is attacked, and the sanctity of our constitutionally guaranteed democracy is threatened, no possibility is ruled out. As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure the sustenance of our democratic order and provide security to life and property.”
BUT the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government against imposing a state of emergency in Anambra.
It described the move to foist an emergency rule in the state as a ploy by the APC-led government to suppress the people, manipulate the process and rig the governorship election for the ruling party and its candidate.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP demanded that the APC and its administration should come clean on their roles in the sudden rise in insecurity in Anambra ahead of the election.
“This demand is predicated on apprehension in the public space that the spate of insecurity in Anambra is contrived to heighten tension in the state so as to derail the democratic process to the advantage of the APC,” the statement added.
The PDP insisted that the Federal Government has the capacity to ensure peace in Anambra before, during and after the election, if it so desired.
“Our party also charge the people of Anambra to remain alert and take steps within the ambits of the law to resist plots by the APC to derail the electoral process in its inordinate ambition to seize Anambra through the back door.”
THE pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, described the announcement by the AGF that the Federal Government may declare a state of emergency in Anambra as a self-indictment.
In a statement by the organisation’s National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi, Afenifere stated that the declaration is more of a verdict of failure on the part of government to provide security rather than the failure of the Anambra State government. “To shift the failure-blame to the state government is therefore shocking and unfortunate.”
According the spokesman, it was in order for the government to warn that the incessant violence in the state was unacceptable and may lead to undesirable consequence, but it is a height of blame game and hypocrisy to put all the blame on the state government when it is clear that the main security apparatuses in the country are controlled exclusively by the Federal Government.
“The highest any state government in Nigeria is allowed to do in terms of security is to set up local vigilance groups who cannot carry equipment necessary to combat insecurity in this 21st security.”
FOREMOST lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), in his reaction said Section 305 of the Constitution provides that the President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency if there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the federation, “but such emergency rule will lapse if it is not supported by a resolution by two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly approving the Proclamation within two days after the publication in the Gazette or within 10 days when the National Assembly is not in session. The power of the President to impose emergency rule is limited to the adoption of extraordinary measures to restore law and order.
“Since 2015, President Buhari has imposed emergency rule in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states by deploying members of the armed forces to assist the police in the restoration of law and order. The President has adopted such extraordinary measures without seeking the approval of both chambers of the National Assembly. I want to believe that the Buhari administration has just realised that the deployment of troops without the declaration of emergency rule in many states of the federation is illegal and unconstitutional. Hence, the threat issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation is an attempt to return to constitutionalism with respect to imposition of emergency rule.
“No where in the Constitution has the President been vested with the power to remove the elected governor of a state and suspend democratic structures. The governor of a state can only be removed by impeachment or resignation and not by imposition of emergency rule. Even though former President Olusegun Obasanjo removed two governors via the imposition of emergency rule, the PDP-led Federal Government later jettisoned the illegal practice. Hence, ex- Presidents Umoru Yaradua and Goodluck Jonathan never used emergency rule to remove elected governors or suspend legislative houses and local government councils.
EBONYI State governor and chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum, Dave Umahi, has said counter-secessionist groups may rise in the Southeast if the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) does not call its members to order and stop the threats and killings.
Umahi, who also described the agitation for Biafra as “madness”, said Southeast elite do not want secession but want the zone to be treated fairly and equitably as other zones in the country. He spoke yesterday as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ breakfast programme.
On Tuesday, the Senate Minority Leader, who represents Abia South, Enyinnaya Abaribe, had said aside from IPOB and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), there are more than 30 separatist organisations in the region.
But reacting on Wednesday, Umahi said the two separatist groups he knows of are IPOB and MASSOB, adding that Abaribe spoke “from the point of his information.”
The governor stated that while MASSOB has never been violent, IPOB dishes out messages of fear and killings in the zone.
MEANWHILE, IPOB has reacted to the decision of the Southeast governors on its ‘sit-at-home order’. IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, said Southeast governors cannot stop the ‘sit-at-home’ order in the region. Powerful said the order was the only way people of the region can express their displeasure over the brutality by security agents in the Southeast.
He re-emphasised that the Mondays ‘sit-at-home’ has been cancelled, adding that those enforcing it are not IPOB members.
He said: “Southeast governors have no stand to stop it. IPOB can only stop ‘sit-at-home’ because they initiated it. We stopped Monday ‘sit-at-home’ because we found out the implications on our people, but the Nigerian Government and their politicians hijacked it and killed people to implicate IPOB worldwide. Very soon, they will understand how we will handle it because we have discovered all their antics.”
PERTURBED by the scarcity of bullion vans, it was gathered that some banks have invaded neighbouring states like Enugu, Delta and Imo in search of armoured security vans for their operations.
A chieftain of one of the political parties who begged not to be named, disclosed that no one actually wants to be associated with any political events at the moment. “You can observe that the attention of the unknown gunmen has recently shifted to politicians.
“Politicians who should be on the road campaigning are not in the state at the moment. The implication is that the electorate may not have the opportunity to make the right decisions should the election hold.”
Last Saturday, the APC cancelled its campaign flag-off billed to hold at the All Saints Cathedral field, Onitsha. Earlier on Thursday, the PDP had equally postponed their flag-off billed to hold in the same church premises and attributed it to rising insecurity.
It was learnt that authorities of the church, which had earlier granted the use of their premises had asked the candidates to call off the exercise, “following several threats from unknown quarters. Also, a memo was issued banning all political activities in the Cathedral premises,” a source said.