Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, yesterday, blasted Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for suggesting that the Federal Government might declare a state of emergency in the state, if the security situation continued to degenerate, saying the AGF’s statement didn’t have the support of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Obiano, who met the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday said Buhari, as the President never mentioned anything relating to the AGF’s statement at the meeting.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Obiano said Predident Buhari warned political parties against using intimidation in the November 6 governorship election in the state.
He described Malami’s comment as unfortunate, wondering why the minister had not considered a declaration of emergency rule in the North-East and North-West, especially in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara states where banditry and terrorism are claiming several lives virtually on a daily basis.
Obiano spoke as Anambra lawmakers yesterday demanded an apology from Malami over the statement, failing which, they urged the President to sack him if he did not resign.
Also the Middle-Belt Forum called for the sack of Malami for embarrassing the President as Ohanaeze Ndigbo commended President Buhari for distancing himself from Malami’s comment.
The governor also claimed that the lawmakers from the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and other parties that defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, were paid N100 million each to join the party.
Malami’s comments unfortunate
On Malami’s comment, the governor said: “That is a very unfortunate comment by the Attorney-General. Very, very unfortunate. I also reported that to the President and this is not in the books for the President because he knows that Anambra has been the safest state in Nigeria for seven years plus.
“These (are) invaders from outside Anambra State, from the neighbouring towns. We are going to deal with them. We are already working.
“Even to contemplate state of emergency is unfortunate. Look at what is happening in the North; they kill dozens every day. Because less than 15 people were killed in Anambra in two weeks, is that a reason for somebody to call for a state of emergency?
“That is a very unfortunate comment by Malami. I will call him to express reservation on those kind of comments, he shouldn’t try that.
“Anambra is doing well and don’t forget that Malami is on the National Campaign Committee for the APC candidate. So, if that’s their strategy, then they have failed already. Come to the ballot box, APGA will win and win hands down. They are trying to see how they can destabilise us. No, APC has no room in Anambra, there’s no party called APC in Anambra. Anambra is APGA.
“What happened for the period of two weeks is just a flash in the pan. Anambra has always been the safest state in Nigeria under my leadership for seven and a half years, so this little hiccup will not warrant his comment.
“Why didn’t he make those comments in Kaduna, in Jos, Imo, Zamfara? Why is he making that kind of assertion and we have an election by the corner? There’s no reason to make that assertion.”
On the current security situation in Anambra State, Governor Obiano said: “We are doing well already. Part of the reasons I came here is to brief some security agencies on the efforts I have made and to solicit some support in some other areas – the Army, the Navy, the Police in particular. The President also noted that and will give further directives.
“We are getting more boots on ground, we are getting more equipment and I believe in less than two weeks, all these things will be over. We will overwhelm and conquer all these miscreants that came from other states nearby to harass Anambra people. Let me stop at saying that they are from neighbouring states.”
On comparison between what is happening in the North-West, North-East and Anambra, Governor Obiano said: “When you have malaria and you have cancer, they are two different treatments. What we have in Anambra is malaria, so you don’t have to use a sledge-hammer to kill that.
“We are not near, in terms of confusion and security challenges, to Zamfara and others, so they are not good examples. The Army, Police, Navy, other arms-bearing people should consider the quantum of force to use. As a strategist, you don’t sit down here and order the army to carry the whole army in Nigeria to Anambra.
“In summary, what I am saying is what is happening in Anambra and this election must hold, the crisis and challenges are far from being close to challenges in the North-West and in the North-East, as the case may be.
“They are not going to use an overwhelming force, that is what we are saying. But use the force required to be able to get the job done.
“The guarantee we are giving for this election is that this election will hold, we will have enough security to back the people and APGA’s candidate, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, will be the next governor of Anambra State.”
No leadership failure in Anambra
On allegations that leadership failure in the South-East led to the emergence of IPOB, Governor Obiano said: “What you asked about the separatists, the answer I’m giving you is that I don’t know what you mean by leadership failure.
“My state is doing very well and as a matter of fact, you are very aware of my international cargo and passenger airport, the best in Nigeria, second longest runway after Lagos, 3.7 kilometres, tallest tower built with concrete all through and to be commissioned very soon.
“There is also the International Conference Centre. We have leadership. So, that’s not the issue at all, but let me say this again, the comment by the Attorney-General is unfortunate. He shouldn’t have made that comment because there’s no basis to make that.
“Whatever it is, I have not had challenges with whoever is causing trouble, no matter who he is, we are going to flush him out. That’s all I can tell you.”
On whether the AGF made the emergency rule comment without the President’s consent, he said in his meeting with President Buhari, such an idea never came up.
His words: “I just finished meeting with the President and I mentioned it and the President didn’t suggest that. The President is firm, he wants a peaceful election in Anambra State. He wants a free and fair election in Anambra State; that is the President for you.
“But if people in his party are going around making insinuations, using his name to do things, the President clearly told me that he does not support that, full stop.”
Defectors joining APC were induced
Asked why lawmakers were defecting from APGA and PDP to the APC, he said those that had joined the APC went to the party to collect their share of N100 million allegedly being distributed to “new converts.”
“Any time, any day, there is no other party in Anambra, only APGA. There’s no APC. But let me tell you, it’s a ploy. Those people that went to APC went there because they were induced, they are still APGA, they are giving us information on what is happening in APC,” he said.
On his take on the assertion that unknown gunmen were being sponsored by external forces outside South-East to cause mayhem in the zone, he said: “I’m not ready to make an assertion on what I do not know about.
“I’m talking about Anambra and I told you that the incidents of the last few weeks are miscreants that came from neighbouring states bordering Anambra and we know them and we are going to flush them out.
“By the way, you are aware that I have put a bounty of N20 million for anybody that will give us information that will lead to the arrest of these miscreants.
“I believe that N20 million is good enough for people to give us information and as soon as we get that information, we are going to deal ruthlessly with whoever those people are. What I can tell you is that I’m emboldened by meeting with the President, today, to confirm to you that Mr President is a fair man, he believes in free and fair election, he doesn’t want intimidation.
“He used that word to me; he said he does not want anybody to intimidate anybody, that he respects everybody. He gave me an example that he ran for presidency three times, that it was only on the fourth time he won.
“So why should people be forced to do what they don’t want to do? That is what members of his party are doing, the President does not support that. I can tell you that.”
My mission in State House
On why he was at the State House, he said: “I came to brief the President on a few things. First, I thanked Mr. President for completing one segment of Umunya to Awka Road and I pleaded with him to also commence work on the other segment so that the road will be fully done.
“I also thanked him for making Anambra an oil producing state with 15 wells, commended him for the support he has given my administration all these years. You know, by March 17, it will be all over and I will finish my second term.
“I also commended Mr. President, for his forthrightness and the continual support with respect to election matters
“After briefing the President on the state of political activities in Anambra, he reassured one more time that election will hold in Anambra State and that the election will be free and fair.
“The President has always made that point and to testify to that, he told me the same during my re-election and APGA won 21 over 21.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday, supported the position of the Attorney-General of Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami on the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in Anambra.
In a chat with NAN, Mohammed said Malami’s position was an effort to avert a “constitutional crisis” in the state.
He said: “In the last couple of weeks, IPOB had imposed sit-at-home on the citizens. They did not allow people to go to schools, markets and there are also high profile killings.
“The AGF said yesterday that the government will do whatever it takes to restore law and order in Anambra and the entire south-east to ensure that symbols and pillars of democracy are not tampered with.
“The forthcoming election in the state is one of the pillars of democracy. Those who are criticising the AGF on this, have they thought for one minute what will happen if the election does not take place in Anambra state on November 6?’’
Apologise or resign, Anambra lawmakers ask AGF
Piqued by Malami’s comments, Anambra State House of Assembly, yesterday demanded an unreserved apology from the Justice Minister.
In a motion of urgent public importance brought by the Majority Leader of the House, Dr. Nnamdi Okafor, the lawmakers said their constituents had been demanding to know the import of Malami’s statement, adding that there was no reason for the minister to heighten undue tension in Anambra State.
The resolution passed by the House read: “The Anambra State House of Assembly rejects and condemns the statement credited to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami that the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in Anambra State cannot be ruled out.
“We call on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Malami to tender an unreserved apology to Anambra State immediately over his unwarranted suggestion of a state of emergency in Anambra State
“We also call on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to sack Mr. Malami as Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice if he fails to tender an apology to Anambra State or resign.
“We urge the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari to reinforce police and security operatives for the protection of the good people of Anambra State”.
Moving the motion earlier, Dr Okafor, who represents Awka South constituency said: “Mr. Speaker, we have been inundated by calls by our constituents and other well meaning Anambra people and I said I must bring this up at the plenary so as to assure our people that we are with them.
“They ordered us to reject in entirety any move by anybody to talk about state of emergency in Anambra State. That statement by the Attorney General was uncalled for. The statement by the AGF created fears and panic in our people.”
Ohanaeze lauds Buhari, says such should not be contemplated
On its part, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo commended President Buhari for distancing himself from the evil plot and said that such an action should not even be contemplated in Anambra or any part of the South East.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo body, Alex Chidozie Ogbonnia, although there are security challenges in Anambra State, they have not got to the stage where a state of emergency should be contemplated at all.
Ogbonnia said there had been more killings in Borno, Yobe, Zamfara, Niger, Plateau, Benue and Kaduna states, yet no state of emergency was invoked in any of the states.
Commending President Buhari for making his position known, Ohanaeze wondered who the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami was working for to warrant him making such a weighty threat without the knowledge of the President.
The Igbo apex body called on the President to call Malami to order against making incendiary statements that could ignite crisis in the country.
“We are happy the President denied that and that should not be contemplated at all in Igbo land. Yes, there are security challenges in Anambra and efforts are on to resolve them. But there are more security challenges and more killings in Borno, Plateau, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Benue and others, but there was no state of emergency in any of the states.
“We commend the President for his position and urge him not to contemplate such action in Anambra state or any other part of Igbo land.”
Sack Malami now, MBF tells Buhari
National President of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, in his reaction, asked President Buhari to fire his Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami for working at cross purposes with him.
He said the Justice Minister deserved the sack for the embarrassment his statement had caused the country before lovers of democracy across the world.
He said: “The statement by Governor Obiano after meeting President Buhari that the President is not in support of emergency rule means that we have a divided government.
“We have a government that is not working in consonance. It means every officer in government is doing his own thing. It means that the appointees of the President are not his lieutenants. If the President’s views and positions are totally different or at cross purposes with that of his Attorney- General, it means the Attorney-General is not a lieutenant of the President.
“So the President has to come out clean. It means it is time for him to do a cabinet shake up to get the right people in the right positions. It is a clear indictment on him if he doesn’t do anything.
“Because if his lieutenants and appointees would say something different, particularly somebody in a sensitive position like the Attorney General, who is supposed to know the law better than anybody else, something is wrong and the President has to swing into action; he has to remove him and put the right person who will speak the mind of the President because what he said on national television was an embarrassment to the people and government of Nigeria before lovers of democracy across the world.”
Buhari agrees with us on lacking power to declare emergency rule – ACF
Reacting, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, ACF National Publicity Secretary,said: “We have already stated our position on emergency powers in our interview with you (Vanguard). If Buhari is not in support of emergency rule in Anambara, it means he is in agreement with us that the 1999 Constitution does not give the President powers to declare a state of emergency the way Obasanjo did during his tenure. “There is a process which ought to be followed. It is provided for in the relevant sections of the Constitution.”
It’s clear AGF’s on his own—Ubani
Also reacting yesterday, chairman of Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Dr. Monday Ubani, said: “It shows that the AG of the Federation most times is on his own in most of the negative views he expresses on governance in Nigeria.
“I am happy that the President has distanced himself from the position of his own Attorney-General. State of emergency is not a child’s play and not something you impose because of a forthcoming election.
“There are grounds for imposition and those conditions must be fulfilled before it is imposed. The act is not executive decision alone; it requires the concurrence of the legislature.
“Therefore, the best the government should do is mobilize security in the entire country, East inclusive, to secure lives and properties. These two responsibilities are the priority of governance anywhere in the world.”