By Favour Goodness
The Federal Government has said it cannot rule out the declaration of a state of emergency in Anambra State if the security situation in the state fails to improve before the November 6 governorship election.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said this on Wednesday while answering questions from State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
But the Peoples Democratic Party, the All Progressive Grand Alliance and its governorship candidate, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, strongly warned against the threat by the Federal Government to declare emergency rule in the state.
The PDP alleged that it was part of the plot of the Federal Government to rig the election.
A state of emergency is a situation of national danger or disaster in which a government suspends normal constitutional procedures in order to regain control.
A declared state of emergency allows the President to immediately make any desired regulations to secure public order and safety.
The insecurity in Anambra State worsened a few weeks ago with a declaration by a separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra that the November 6 governorship poll in the state would not hold.
On September 28, gunmen murdered Dr Chike Akunyili, the widower of the late Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, and former Minister of Information, Prof Dora Akunyili, and eight others at Nkpor in the Idemili Local Government Area of the state.
On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, expressed concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the state.
On Wednesday in the interview with the state House correspondent, Malami, said the government had the responsibility to sustain the democratic order and would do the needful to ensure that the election holds.
According to him, no possibility can be ruled out when the sanctity of democracy is threatened.
He, however, said that the option of declaring a state of emergency was still on the table and might be used if circumstances necessitated it.
Malami 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. As a government, we have a responsibility to provide security to life and properties.
“So, within the context of these constitutional obligations, of the government or the desire to establish democratic norms and order, there is no possibility that is ruled out.
“The government will certainly do the needful in terms of ensuring that our election is held in Anambra in terms of ensuring necessary security is provided, and in terms of ensuring protection is accorded to lives and properties.
“So, what I’m saying in essence is, no possibility is out ruled by government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our election in Anambra holds, and you cannot rule out possibilities including the declaration of state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.
“So, our position as a government is this; the election is going to hold. Necessary security in terms of democratic order must certainly prevail for the purpose of this election.
“The election is going to hold and no possibilities are ruled out in terms of ensuring the provision of security, for the purpose of the conduct of the election as far as Anambra is concerned.”
The National Chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Oye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the party rejected the plan by the Federal Government.
He asked, “Have they declared a state of emergency in Borno where in one fell swoop, 300 people can be killed?
“What Anambra requires is a sincere approach to the restoration of normalcy. The Federal Government has the capacity to end it.”
“Anambra doesn’t deserve the declaration of a state of emergency. What the government needs to do is to beef up security there, restore normalcy and deal with those who are causing confusion in the state.”
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement titled, “Perish contemplations of state of emergency In Anambra, PDP cautions FG” asked the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to perish every contemplation of imposing a state of emergency in the state ahead of the November 6 governorship election.
He said, “The PDP holds that the reported move to foist an emergency rule in Anambra state is a ploy by the APC-led government to suppress the people, manipulate the process and rig the governorship election for the APC and its candidate.
“Our party demands that the APC and its administration should come clean on their roles in the sudden rise in insecurity in Anambra State ahead of the election.
“This demand is predicated on apprehensions 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.”
Attempts to get a response from the APC, were futile. Calls to the mobile telephone number of the party’s National Secretary who doubles as its Spokesman, Sen. John Akpanudoedehe, were neither picked nor returned.
A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report at 7.22pm.
The APGA governorship candidate, Soludo, said a declaration of a state of emergency would escalate what the Federal Government intended to cure.
Soludo, who spoke through an aide, Pauly Onweka, said the situation in the state had not warranted the declaration of a state of emergency.
He said,” Everybody knows that Anambra State has been peaceful for nearly eight years. The insecurity challenges now are engineered by politicians who want to create fears in the minds of electorate to pervert the election.
“A state of emergency in Anambra will be an indictment of the Federal Government that controls all aspects security apparatuses.
“Instead of a state of emergency, the Federal Government has the option to flood the state with security personnel to enable it to have the so-called peace for the election. Any state of emergency in the state would go to confirm that the All Progressives Congress has a predetermined ploy to take over Anambra State at all costs.”
The state Secretary of the PDP,, Okoli Akirika, “What we have in Anambra State is an isolated case of insecurity which can be contained by the Federal Government if it so desired.”
Warning against state of emergency, the state Governor, Willie Obiano, who spoke through the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, said the state remained one of the most peaceful states in the country.
He stated, “Elections were conducted in Borno and some other states in 2019 that had more security challenges than Anambra.”
But the APC governorship candidate, Sen. Andy Uba, blamed the governor for the insecurity in the state.
He stated, “The only person to blame if there should be a state of emergency in Anambra State should be Governor Willie Obiano.
Uba who spoke through his Director of Information, Afam Ogene, said “One day ago, the South-East stakeholders held a meeting in Enugu; the only state that was not represented in the meeting was Anambra State, yet the Anambra has the highest security challenges in the zone. The question is what does the governor do with his security vote that is about N1.5bn monthly?”