BY EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
The next general election is less than eighteen months away but it is already facing imminent danger due to the widening and expanding frontiers of coordinated terror attacks. The sad thing is that a lot of Nigerians are not remotely aware of the possibility that there are forces foisting the nation-wide state of insecurity so the 2023 general election may be impeded. Importantly, there are insinuation that certain forces are also feeding fat from the general state of insecurity just as most Nigerians are asking probing question if the war is just been prolonged so the conflicts entrepreneurs can maximise profits. This question is currently on the lips of most people especially since the budget defence that was put up by the Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Yahaya Faruk.
The above insinuation is dominating conversations in some circles and was recently escalated when the Army Chief was quoted in the media to have asserted that N579 Billion was way too small to wage successful war against terrorism.
The media has it that the Nigerian Army had appealed to the National Assembly to help facilitate the exclusion of the Army and other security agencies from the envelope budgeting system.
With the envelope budgeting, agencies like the army are exempted from first-line charge status. This means they get their appropriations through the Ministry of Finance.
The army said the budgeting system often leads to the reduction of its annual appropriation by the Ministry of Finance – a development which could impede its operational efficiency.
The Chief of Army Staff, Farouk Yahaya, made the plea on Wednesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Army for the 2022 budget defence.
He complained that the Army’s budget size has drastically reduced from the N710 billion it proposed to N579 billion approved by the Ministry of Finance and Budget Office for the 2022 fiscal year.
“In preparing for year 2022 budget, the Nigerian Army proposed about the sum of N710 billion but the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning budget ceiling reduced it to a total sum of N579 billion.
What may immediately come to the mind of a critic is that if it is this expensive to wage war against terrorists, is it not possible then for war entrepreneurs to want to prolong the war for their own profits?
However what should dominate national conversations is the danger that this state of general insecurity poses to the 2023 election. There are well placed fears that forces who may not want the next general election to take place may actually be fuelling the state of insecurity to create avenue for tenure extension for the incumbent President. This apprehension engendered the need to seek legal explanation on What the law states may happen if insecurity permeates all across Nigeria and result in the declaration in the state of emergency in Nigeria.
Mrs. Agatha Ndibe a lawyer analysed it thus: The President according to section 305 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended will declare a state of emergency.
SECTION 305 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the imposition of a state of emergency in the country or any part of it. The section empowers the president to issue the declaration by way of official gazette.
It added, however, that a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly must ratify the executive proclamation within two days, if the legislators are in session, or 10 days, if they are not.
It states: 305(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.
(2) The President shall immediately after the publication, transmit copies of the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation containing the proclamation including the details of the emergency to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall forthwith convene or arrange for a meeting of the House of which he is President or Speaker, as the case may be, to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the Proclamation.
(3) The President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency only when:
(a) the Federation is at war;
(b) the Federation is in imminent danger of invasion or involvement in a state of war;
(c) there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security;
(d) there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger;
(e) there is an occurrence or imminent danger, or the occurrence of any disaster or natural calamity, affecting the community or a section of the community in the Federation;
(f) there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation; or
(g) the President receives a request to do so in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.
(4) The Governor of a state may, with the sanction of a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly, request the President to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the state when there is in existence within the state any of the situations specified in subsection (3) (c), (d) and (e) of this section and such situation does not extend beyond the boundaries of the state.
(5) The President shall not issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in any case to which the provisions of subsection (4) of this section apply unless the governor of the state fails within a reasonable time to make a request to the President to issue such Proclamation.
(6) A Proclamation issued by the President under this section shall cease to have effect:
(a) if it is revoked by the President by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the government of the federation;
(b) if it affects the Federation or any part thereof and within two days when the National Assembly is in session, or within 10 days when the National Assembly is not in session, after its publication, there is no resolution supported by two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly approving the Proclamation;
(c) after a period of six months has elapsed since it has been in force:
Provided that the National Assembly may, before the expiration of the period of six months aforesaid, extend the period for the Proclamation of the state of emergency to remain in force from time to time for a further period of six months by resolution passed in like manner; or
(d) at any time after the approval referred to in paragraph (b) or the extension referred to in paragraph (c) of this subsection, when each House of the National Assembly revokes the Proclamation by a simple majority of all the members of each House.
The Fate of 2023 Election and the Implication Of Declaring State Of Emergency.
Normally, the official gazette will specify the extent and scope of the emergency powers. The following additional powers can be exercised under emergency rule:
- Massive deployment of the armed forces to take charge of security in place of the policy Invasion of people’s privacy (including homes and offices). Searches can be conducted without a warrant suspects can be arrested and detained without being charged
- Special laws can be enacted to punish those who flout the emergency rules
- Quasi-judicial: bodies can be set up to try offenders rights to lawful assembly and freedom of expression and communication can be restricted the Nigerian government can decide to take over the executive and legislative functions of the affected state destruction and confiscation of private property without compensation to the victims restrictions on the conduct of private businesses including financial transactions.
- Under emergency rule, the government enjoys wide powers which infringe on human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Siracusa Principles limit which rights can be infringed. During the enforcement of emergency rule, however, these principles might not be adhered to.
What are the dangers of declaring a state of emergency?
The government can abuse the emergency powers. In fact, dictators around the world abuse emergency rule. They impose restrictions on people’s rights and freedoms.
Inclusion, it can also lead to temporary suspension of the democratic order and pave the way for the ascendancy of anti-democratic forces. Nigeria runs a federal system – a situation where the federating units are expected to enjoy autonomy. But the country’s federal system is deeply flawed with power and resources inordinately in control of the cent just like in a leading case in PLATEAU STATE OF NIGERIA AND ANOTHER V ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION AND ANOTHER (SC 113/2004) NGSC 39 (20 JANUARY 2006) (SC 113/2004)  NGSC 1 (19 JANUARY 2006).
The President and his military Chiefs have just few months to prove to Nigerians that the expanding frontiers of coordinated terror attacks is not politically motivated.
General Sani Abacha rightly stated that if insecurity becomes unabated then the central government knows one or two things about this state of insecurity.
The National Assembly also needs to get serious and unravel those conflicts entrepreneurs who do not wish that the counter terror war is fought successfully to an end within limited time line. This is because Nigeria can’t continue to fritter financial resources to fight a war that some insiders are benefiting and therefore do not want it to come to an end. Nigeria doesn’t have a bottomless pit of dollars to continue to prosecute the war that isn’t planned to be over within a time frame. Nigerians should demand a time frame for the end of the counter terror war.
Finding this fact of who are the conflict entrepreneurs won’t take rocket science if those in the National Assembly are not part of the larger plots to undermine the integrity of the 2023 General election. We must begin to task the President to be an effective commander in chief and bring the state of insecurity to an end so the 2023 election is not destroyed.
- EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was federal commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.