Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the National Assembly to veto the non-signing into law by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Electoral Act just as the Rights group said the apparent failure of the Federal Government to combat the unprecedented rise of insecurity are twin evils threatening smooth transition of power in 2023.
In the same vein, the Rights group has faulted the position of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Alhaji Abubakar Malami on the reasons why the President did not sign the Electoral Act saying that rather than being against the public good, it is the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to append his signature to the landmark Electoral Act and government’s incapacity and unwillingness to combat terrorism and insecurity that are widening that are against the public good of Nigeria and exposes the 2023 transition programme to regrettable jeopardy.
HURIWA recalled that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had given reasons why President Muhammadu Buhari denied assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, stating that the law had not captured the interest of all Nigerians.
In a live radio programme monitored in Abuja, the minister said the new law “has an excessive cost implication, is discriminatory, as well as supportive of insecurity. Signing it into law will only initiate a new crisis that will lead to court cases.”
He went on: “What you should understand about the leadership of the country, most especially as it regards President Buhari on any law presented to him for signing, is that he is entitled to certain rights.”
HURIWA through its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko however expressed disappointment that the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to put a handle to the growing insecurity and his deliberate sabotage of the Electoral Act which would have liberalised the processes of leadership recruitment by Nigerians through conduct of party primaries by direct means are the twin evils against the 2023 general election.
HURIWA said the non signing of the Electoral Act and the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to control the expanding frontiers of insecurity and terrorism may inevitably predispose the politicians to explore the angle of declaration of a state of emergency to self perpetuate in offices which may precipitate a civil war. HURIWA therefore asked the National Assembly to stave off the danger of anarchy which the non signing of the Electoral Act and the increasing insecurity may cause in Nigeria towards the 2023 poll because any attempt to declare a State of Emergency to prolong the tenure in office of President Muhammadu Buhari could possibly lead to civil war.
HURIWA said those working towards third term agenda do not want insecurity to end and are undermining the signing into law of a comprehensive Electoral Act just as they may explore SECTION 305 of the 1999 Constitution that 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.