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24 hours to security meeting: Governors divided over state of emergency; three options before GEJ

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24 hours to security meeting: Governors divided over state of emergency; three options before GEJ

by Segun Odeleye

Tomorrow is the all important security meeting between the president, the National Security Council and the governors of the 36 states.

One key issue expected to dominate discussions is whether to extend the state of emergency in 3 states in the North East or to end it. Governors are split on this matter, according to a report by The Nation newspaper.

The governors of the affected states namely Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Kashim Shettima (Borno) and Ibrahim Gaidam (Yobe) have been insisting that the emergency rule should end and they hav ewon over some of their colleagues. Others like the governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, are reportedly of the opinion that it should be extended.

According to the report, Pres. Jonathan has 3 options:

– to extend it as it is (some say even with the removal of the three governors this time);

– to end it but enhance security apparatchik in the three states;

– to place restrictions on some services – in line with the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.

The presidency is looking at the security implications of the three options.

According to the report:

The governors, who have reached out to their colleagues, are already lobbying members of the National Assembly to reject any notice of extension of the emergency rule.

A top source said: “Most of the governors are rallying their colleagues to end the state of emergency in the three states. They have also secured the support of quite an appreciable number of National Assembly members.

“So, the governors are determined to frustrate any move to extend the state of emergency. Therefore, unlike the overwhelming support, which the extension enjoyed in the National Assembly, it might not scale through this time around.

“The state of emergency is also already politicized, with the Presidency feeling scandalised.”

A governor said: “I know the state of emergency might be one of the issues to be discussed on Wednesday. We are already determined to ask the President to end the rule and let us see how the three states will cope.

“We prefer total overhauling of the security apparatchik in the three states than the state of emergency which has paralysed the economic activities of the states.

“The good thing is that the President cannot arbitrarily decide the fate of the three states. It is going to be a game of number in the National Assembly to extend the state of emergency. We are waiting for his decision.”

One of the governors of the affected states, who spoke in confidence, said: “We believe we have had enough of the state of emergency because it has not stopped killings in the three states. Our position has not changed on the need to end it.

“We want to appeal to the President to provide adequate security instead of the extension of the state of emergency.

“What we are doing is to appeal to our colleagues to understand our position. We are better off without state of emergency.”

Responding to a question, the governor said: “I think the state of emergency should end on May 19 and not April 19 , 2014 if it was really for a six-month period.”

A Presidency source, however, said: “Wednesday’s meeting is going to focus on how to end rising insurgency in all parts of the Federation.

“The President will present new security proposals or strategies by service chiefs to the governors for their input. He expects them to be large hearted enough and put the nation’s interest above personal sentiments or political partisanship.

“The new strategies will be applicable to all the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT. He is meeting the governors because security is now everyone’s business.

“There may be need for more financial collaboration between the Federal Government and the states on the new security measures.

“The President is likely to use the opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders to avoid politicising security operations in the country. Some of the troops are feeling unappreciated.”

Asked of the state of emergency in the three states, the source added: “This will be an issue but not the main agenda.

“Even if it us not on the agenda, some of the governors will raise it because the fate of the state of emergency in the three states has dominated public discourse in the past few weeks.

“The President has not made up his mind on the extension of the state of emergency because he is still consulting on the matter. These governors should appreciate that the President is determined to end these killings in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

“The President is also likely to engage the leaders of the National Assembly on the way out. The consultation is necessary so that the governors will not turn round to point accusing fingers at Jonathan.

“We have three options including the extension of the emergency, ending it and applying the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 as part of the enhanced security operations in the three states.

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