Sequel to a state of emergency proposed to the federal government by the Zamfara State government, the apex northern sociocultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said there is nothing bad in the government negotiating with bandits if that will better the lives of Nigerians.
But the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), on its part, said the declaration for a state of emergency in states ravaged by insecurity was long overdue.
ACF, in its reaction through the national publicity secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, also said the federal government had no powers to declare a state of emergency outside the stipulations of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It averred that all the emergency rule declared by former President Olusegun Obasanjo were illegal under the Constitution, adding that those states that went to challenge it in court got judgments in their favour.
According to ACF, “There is a constitutional provision for the process of declaring a state of emergency in a state. The president cannot just wake up and declare a state of emergency even in one state, not to talk of the whole northern region, which the 1999 constitition recognises as 19 states.
“If he does it and somebody takes him to court, the person will win and the president will lose.
“We have always believed in dialogue. If the government negotiates with the bandits and Nigerians are better off, what is wrong with that,” it said..
But the AYCF, through her national president, Yerima Shettima, said, “It is a worthy call; declaring a state of emergency is long overdue.
“The federal government at some point said they knew sponsors of Boko Haram and up until now, nobody has been exposed, brought to book or prosecuted. Declaring a state of emergency is about the only option we have now, particularly in states where the governors cannot handle the insecurity.
“Government must not fold it hands to allow innocent people to be killed with reckless abandon and people losing their valuables either through ransom payment to bandits or outright destruction by same bandits. For us in AYCF, the call for a state of emergency is apt,” he said.
We Have Been Clamouring For Emergency Rule – CNG
On its part, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said, “The CNG as a group will support any policy or move that will bring lasting peace to the region and the country at large. Our only issue with the statement is the timing.
“One negotiates when he or she has the upper hand which will then tilt the terms and conditions of the negotiation in his favour not when it’s at its lowest like now. This also raises the question ‘why did they oppose the motion when Sheikh Gumi brought it up? Why did they oppose it when we brought it up?”
According to Dr Mohamed Nawaila, director of cyber research and data management of CNG, “One cannot but doubt the motives or is it because now they understand the level of risk they too are in? This also vindicates us on the issue we keep raising that our leaders are playing politics with the life and property of the masses
“For a long time, we have called on the government to declare a state of emergency on security but the government ignored the call. But now that the bandits have the might to attack military formation (one of the strongest if not the strongest for that matter) was when they think it’s the right time.
“The real issue is that the government is myopic and lacks forecast, will and might to tackle the issue but concentrate solely on how to borrow and embezzle money,” he said.
For Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, the northwest coordinator of CNG, “The call to declare a state of emergency in Northern Nigeria is long overdue, lives are being lost on a daily basis with formal and informal IDPs everywhere, today, life and livelihood have become difficult in Nigeria.
“Insurgency reached its peak, concerning negotiations with bandit, so far has made no impact in any way, but a venture where some people enriched themselves, but whatever way, be it kinetic or non- kinetic, all we are appealing for is peace to be restored in Northern Nigeria so that farming activities and pastoralism can be restored,” he stressed.
However, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has rejected the call by Zamfara State governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle, for the declaration of emergency rule in the entire Northern states and for negotiation with bandits.
According to the MBF, if a state of emergency is declared, martial law will be imposed and even the governor will cease to be in office.
The president of the forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu said bandits should be treated as terrorists, even as he insisted that the Nigerian military had the capacity to uproot them from the bushes. He, however, believes there is the lack of political will to deal with the matter.
“When a state of emergency is declared, martial law will be imposed. Military will take over and Matawalle won’t be governor. State of emergency means loss of democratic rule and total take over by the military, which is not good under a democratic system.
“It is obvious the governor doesn’t know what state of emergency means. State of emergency is not acceptable today,” Pogu said.
On the call for negotiation with bandits, Pogu said it is just a conspiracy theory, adding that the Nigerian military can defeat the bandits.
“The military has the capacity to defeat the bandits but the political will is not there. We say no to negotiation with the bandits. If the military want to deal with them, they can bomb them in the bushes. There should be political will for the military to bomb them and not negotiation. What we have today is just a conspiracy,” Pogu added.
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State had urged the federal government to declare state of emergency in the Northern part of the country as a means to end acts of banditry in the region.
Receiving the assistant inspector general of police (AIG) in charge of Zone 10, Ali Janga, Governor Matawalle said the declaration of a state of emergency to deal with banditry was the best option to contain the security challenges facing the states in the zone.
According to him, the security challenges facing the zone had reached an alarming rate and ought to be faced with all seriousness.
He stressed that, the sum of N17 million was recently released to the security agencies to mobilise their personnel to insecurity prone areas.
On the recently abducted people from the state, Matawalle said that government was making efforts to secure their release.