As the security situation in Borno State worsens, individuals and groups have begun to mount pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in order to check the activities of Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect that has been attacking people and institutions around the state.
At the forefront of the agitation for emergency rule in the state are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders in the state as well as the Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Nation investigation revealed that PDP stakeholders in Borno State have made representations to President Jonathan, asking him to declare a state of emergency in the troubled state.
Already, 76 members of the Borno PDP Stakeholders Forum have issued a statement, urging the President to declare a state of emergency. Numbered among them are former governor of the state, Alhaji Mohammed Goni; former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Shettima Mustapha; Amb. Saidu Pindar; former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Arc. Ibrahim Bunu; Engr. Mohammed Abba Gana; Dr. Bitrus Togu; Hon. Muhammed Kumalia; Hon. Fanta Baba Shehu and Hon. Ilya Steven.
The statement of the pro-emergency group reads in part: ”We must all act now to save the situation. Declare a state of emergency to create an enabling environment to address the aforementioned.
“Subsequently, a Judicial Commission of Enquiry should be set up to undertake appropriate investigative measures. The Federal Government should in the interest of peace and justice immediately arraign and prosecute all the principal actors involved in extra-judicial killings in Borno State .
“The government should engage in a dialogue with the leaders of the sect. Government should consider granting amnesty. The amnesty should include a programme of jobs, training and placement.”
But while members of the PDP Stakeholders Forum are mounting pressure on the President to declare emergency rule in Borno State, Governor Kashim Shettima and key leaders of the ANPP have kicked against the measure.
The leaders include former Military Governor of the defunct North-Eastern State, Brig.-Gen. Abba Kyari; ex-Governor Modu Ali Sheriff; ex-Minister Shettima Ali Monguno; Alhaji Abba Satomi; Amb. Ahmed Yusufari; AVM Al-Amin Daggash; AIG Zanna Laminu Mamadi (rtd); AIG Mukhtar Alkali (rtd); Imam Babagana Asil (the Imam Idaini of Borno) and Alhaji Tijjani Bolori, among others.
Acting under the auspices of Borno Leaders of Thought, they appealed to “all and sundry to give peace a chance.
“We are calling for a safe conduct of our fleeing people back to their homes and places of business,” they said, noting that the use of force under any guise could not address the conflict in the state.
They added: “We on behalf of the people of Borno and all peace-loving people of the country wish to state as follows: That since the commencement of current conflict in Borno, the situation has been deteriorating.
“That the expectation that the intervention of the military in the conflict might bring the situation under control has been grossly misplaced.”
However, Ohanaeze Ndigbo yesterday aligned itself with the position of pro-emergency group as it asked the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Borno State to enable government to deal decisively with the worsening activities of the Boko Haram sect in the state. Condemning the spate of killings by the Boko Haram sect, the Ohanaeze urged the financiers of the sect to come out of their shells.
Their position is contained in a communiqué they issued after an emergency meeting of the Ime-Obi (Elders Council), which took place in Abuja.
The body expressed concern over ‘’the deteriorating security situation in Maiduguri and other parts of Borno State and the wanton destruction of lives and property in the North Eastern zone.”
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who is also the Chairman, Ime-Obi Ohaneze in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), noted that the body strongly condemned the activities of Boko Haram sect “and their collaborators who have claimed responsibility for the series of bombings in Maiduguri, Bauchi, Kaduna, Suleja, Abuja and other parts of northern Nigeria.”
The body described as senseless’’ the killing of innocent Nigerians and destruction of public and private property by members of the sect.
It noted that it was against all ethical, traditional and religious norms for the sect to engage in killings for whatever reason.
It advised the sect to stop forthwith the spate of bombings and “embrace dialogue, including other legal means, in laying their grievances against the Federal, state, corporate or private authorities.”
Apart from urging members of the sect to lay down their arms in the interest of peace and tranquility in the country, the body called on the “rich/politician financiers of Boko Haram to come out clean, embrace dialogue and stop shedding crocodile tears with the rest of honestly concerned and worried Nigerians.”
It said that President Goodluck Jonathan should urgently declare a state of emergency in Borno State .
It insisted that there was no doubt that what was happening in Borno State was a serious “threat to the democratic institutions in the place.”
It posited that declaration of a state of emergency would empower federal authorities to directly handle the unhealthy situation unfolding in the state.
The body called on the Federal Government and the military authorities to ensure that the lives of innocent Nigerians, especially Igbo indigenes who incidentally were the next largest population in the state after its indigenes, “are protected and their property also protected from organised and unorganizsd looting.”
It further “charge the Federal Government to henceforth ensure early intervention in any state where the activities of the sect and their collaborators are noticed as delays usually lead to loss of innocent lives, property and distortion of economy of the state and country at large.
Apart from Ezeife, other prominent members of the Ime Obi who attended the meeting are: Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, Secretary-General; HRH Eze Ibe Nwosu, Igbo I (Eze-Igbo Abuja); Barr. Calistus Nwabueze Obi, Chairman Ohanaeze FCT; Chairman Ohanaeze FCT, Rep. Abia and Rt. Hon Chief Agunwa Anaekwe, Rep. Anambra State.
Others are Hon (Chief) Silas Arinze Ilo, Rep. Enugu State; Elder Barr Onwu O. Arua, Rep. Ebonyi State; AVM Konye Ekezie (Rtd), Rep. Imo State; Engr John Ogbuh, Rep. Enugu State; Ogbueshi Patrick Osadebeh, Rep. Delta State; Chief Harrison Omeoka, Rep. Rivers State and several other delegates.
A presidency source, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is no basis for any fear by anybody at all, including the ANPP government in Borno State .
“There is nothing like state of emergency declaration in that state. The President believes that security agencies and the military can address the situation in the interest of the nation.’’
Source : The Nation Newspaper
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