NIGERIA’S attorney-general and justice minister Abubakar Malami has threatened to declare a state of emergency in Anambra State over the ongoing insecurity there saying that it threatens the forthcoming gubernatorial elections.
On November 6, Anambrans go to the polls to elect a new governor and with campaigning well underway across the state, there have been a few skirmishes. Despite the fact that by Nigerian standards, the violence in Anambra is relatively minimal when compared with what is going on in say Kaduna, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, Benue states, for instance, the federal government has threatened to wield the big stick.
Speaking after a Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, Mr Malami said that the federal government is determined to ensure a hitch-free election in the state. He added: “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 as a government, we have a responsibility to provide security to life and properties. So, what I’m saying in essence, no possibility is out ruled by government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra hold.
“You cannot rule out the possibility of 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.”
In a swift response, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, has described the declaration as a self-indictment. Afenifere said Mr Malami’s remark was more of a verdict of failure on the part of the federal government to provide security rather than the failure of the Anambra State government.
Jare Ajayi, Afenifere’s publicity secretary, said: “To shift the failure-blame to the state government is therefore shocking and unfortunate. It was in order for the federal 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 vigilante groups who cannot carry equipment necessary to combat insecurity in this 21st security. The kind of weapons they could carry under the present Nigerian law is the type a person going to hunt for game in the bush can carry, while those they are supposed to confront are armed with almost the most sophisticated weapons available.”