Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has responded to the proposed move by the federal government to effect state of emergency in Anambra State following series of civil Unrest and assassination in the state.
Falana warned that it will be “dangerous” for the federal government to declare emergency rule in Anambra in the attempt to “remove” Willie Obiano, governor of the state.
Falana also added that while the constitution gives the president power to declare a state of emergency in any part of the country, he has no power to remove an elected governor.
The federal government had, on Wednesday, threatened to declare a state of emergency in Anambra to ensure that the November 6 governorship election in the state takes place.
The threat followed a series of violent attacks in the state.
Falana statement reads; “The power of the President to impose emergency rule is limited to the adoption of extraordinary measures to restore law and order or peace and stability. In other words, if a state of emergency is validly declared in any State or in the entire country, the President is empowered to deploy troops and take other extraordinary measures to restore law and order.
“Since 2015, President Buhari has imposed emergency rule in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina States by deploying members of the armed forces to assist the police in the restoration of law and order. The President has adopted such extraordinary measures without seeking the approval of both Chambers of the National Assembly.
“In other words, since the emergency rule imposed on the North East region by President Goodluck Jonathan expired by effluxion of time, President Buhari has not renewed or extended it. The National Assembly has not challenged the illegal emergency rule imposed without any declaration as stipulated by section 305 of the Constitution.
“To that extent, I want to believe that the Buhari administration has just realised that the deployment of troops without the declaration of emergency rule in many states of the Federation is illegal and unconstitutional. Hence, the threat issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation is an attempt to return to constitutionalism with respect to imposition of emergency rule in Anambra State and other States in the North West, North East and South East regions, where the Federal Government is waging a full scale war against terrorists and the so-called gunmen.
“I wish to submit, without any fear of contradiction, that nowhere in the Constitution has the President been vested with the power to remove the elected Governor of a State and suspend democratic structures. The Governor of a State can only be removed by impeachment or resignation and not by imposition of emergency rule.
“In the same vein, the tenure of legislators is 4 years in line with the provisions of the Constitution. Even though former President Olusegun Obasanjo removed two Governors via the imposition of emergency rule, the PDP-led Federal Government later jettisoned the illegal practice.
“Hence ex-Presidents Umaru Yaradua and Goodluck Jonathan never used emergency rule to remove elected governors or suspend legislative houses and local government councils.
“Indeed, the Federal Government has since realised that it is unjust and immoral to remove a Governor of a State since the President exclusively controls the armed forces, the police and other security agencies. To that extent, the Federal Government should drop the dangerous plan to remove the Governor of Anambra State and impose a Sole Administrator on the eve of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the State.”
The senior lawyer advised President Muhammadu Buhari to seek legislative approval to back the deployment of armed forces in Anambra, and other states where the federal government is currently conducting counter-insurgency operations.