Democratisation of Violence or State of Emergency?By Babayola Toungo

The request for the extension of the state of emergency in
the northeast states tabled before the National Assembly by
Goodluck Jonathan and sheepishly approved by the House
of Representatives is clear indication that they have
harkened to the misinformed call of the Southern
Leadership Assembly and not the informed call by the North
East Leadership Forum. While the former live over a
thousand kilometres away from the northeast, the later are
right at the centre of the mayhem. The act of tabling the
request in itself is further prove positive that the Jonathan
administration “has now become a government of impunity
run by an evil-minded leadership..” to quote Admiral
Murtala Nyako.
While the people of the three states – Borno, Yobe and
Adamawa – are counting the days and eagerly waiting for
the last day of the emergency rule, those who the Admiral
described in his Memo as “murderous/ cutthroats imbedded
in our legitimate and traditional defence and security
organisations” are pushing for the extension of the
emergency. As it turns out, Admiral, the “cutthroats” are
also embedded in the political class. The people of these
three states have been living through hell in the past one
year. Their routines have been dislocated, their economic
activities were grounded and their psyches have been
brutalised. Worse of all, the security situation became
shoddier under the emergency regime. An unnecessary
curfew is imposed on the people making life more difficult
than before the proclamation. All businesses must be closed
from a certain time to a definite time. One is not allowed to
venture out once the curfew hour kick-ins. Even the act of
taking a sick relation or expectant mother to the hospital
has become risky because one may either be shot or
arrested. While they were enduring these, those calling for
the extension of the state of emergency are ensconced in
far away places like Abuja, Enugu, Port-Harcourt or Lagos.
It is not unusual for the soldiers to close down a whole town
in the middle of the day in the name of “stop and search
operation”. While the innocent and law abiding are
harassed, humiliated and confined to their houses
defenceless and at the mercy of killers, the killers are having
a field day with unbridled impunity and access – choosing
and picking their targets.
Another fall out of the state of emergency is the unwitting
“democratisation of violence” – the proliferation of arms
within the northeast of arms and ammunition. Today in the
northeast, a toddler knows what an AK-47 looks like. Small
arms and rifles are now common sight. It also led to the
escalation of violence to unthinkable proportions. Before the
declaration of the emergency regime, the insurgents operate
in small ways before the audacious Baga massacre, which
was attributed to the military. This was the point that the
mayhem took a life of its own and the declaration of the
state of emergency only escalated the killing sprees. With
the insurgents killing and destroying at will, the soldiers are
harassing, humiliating and brutalising the people. The
innocent poor are now living a life filled with violence from
both sides.
While I may not be a security expert, I am yet to see
anything to convince me of the need to extent this martial
tactic. I am rather more convinced that the emergency rule
should not be extended because of the results so far seen
by the entire world and the pains it inflicts on those residing
in the emergency states. For those who are objective and
unbiased, I want us to put the emergency rule on a scale
and see what it has achieved. This is without prejudice to
creed, region or tribe. We should view everything from a
human prism untainted by our usual prejudices.
The invasion of Bama, Konduga, Gwoza Izge and Gamboru
Ngala all took place while the emergency rule is in force.
The “insurgents” seem to be emboldened by the emergency
declaration because they know all law abiding citizens are
confined to their homes like chicken by the attendant curfew
that is part of the emergency. The insurgents who the
emergency rule was meant to tame had a smooth ride
overrunning military formations like the Air force base in
Maiduguri and the Giwa Barracks. The destruction of
Mobbar, Mafa and some other villages along the Maiduguri
– Damaturu highway were all carried out under the
emergency rule. And during curfew hours . students of Federal Government College, Buni Yadi were
massacred in their sleep while Yobe state was effectively
under the jackboots of the military, whose Commander in
Chief is the President of the Federal Republic. Beni Sheikh,
another town in Yobe was invaded and many people
slaughtered in cold blood. Residents of Damaturu, Potiskum
and Damagun, all in Yobe state, had to learn to sleep with
both eyes open during in the past one year as the insurgents
make sweeping visits to their towns from time to time
unmolested. Parents of schoolgirls in Chibok lost their kids
under the emergency period and are yet to be reunited with
them. Their only consolation (if it can be called so) is that
they are sure for the moment their children are alive, if the
video shown to the world by their abductors is to be belived.
The northern part of Adamawa has not known peace from
the time the emergency rule has been introduced in the
state. Numerous villages and towns around the area were
attacked several times without response from the soldiers
that are purportedly drafted to beef up security in the area.
The Adamawa state governor escaped death by the hairs of
his beard at one time when he went to condole with those
who came under attack by God knows who.
Interestingly, all the aforementioned attacks always take
place in the night. Security personnel are on the prowl
during these curfew hours to ensure its compliance by a
browbeaten citizenry. The people living in these areas are
caught between a brutal gang of killers and an
unsympathetic security personnel whose presence is only
felt at the ubiquitous road blocks that are now a veritable
source of frustration to travellers and toll collection centres
to those who man them.
The House of Representatives members hinged its
motivation for the approval to extent the emergency rule in
the three states on “evidence” presented before them by the
Service Chiefs. The House will have done itself a world of
good by presenting this same evidence to the people of the
northeast in order to convince them to buy into the
extension. Living in their Abuja comfort zones and
appending their names to the continued brutalisation of their
people by a military whose tactics are no better than those
of the insurgents is easy for them. I will advice most of
them to avoid their constituencies because the evidences
before the constituents paints a different picture. Most of
them believe they are better off before the emergency.
These are some of the few things the people of Borno, Yobe
and Adamawa states have been subjected to in the past one
year. And this is what their so-called representatives want
them to continue with for another six month.
The proclamation of a state of emergency in a democratic
dispensation is an aberration and can therefore not be used
ad infinitum. If Jonathan believes that the Boko Haram
menace falls under the factors numerated in S.305 (3) (c or
d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), then in my
opinion, the threat by the Ijaw Youth Congress should be
treated under S. 305 (3) (f). With the near collapse of
civilisation in the eastern region in the recent past when Port
Harcourt was practically set ablaze, no such drastic action
was taken on the region. What is the difference now?
If the logic of those calling for the extension of the state of
emergency in the three northeastern states is allowed to
prevail, then the northern region of Nigeria should brace
itself for a declaration of state of emergency in the whole of
the region before the 2015 elections. Either by design or
default, the north is on fire – Boko Haram in the northeast,
farmers/ herders clashes in the north central and bandits in
the northwest.
The success of the Civilian JTF in Borno is inspite of the
emergency, not because of it. Were the people of Raan, Kala
Balge local government to rely on the soldiers to save them,
their town will have been laid to ruins. For the people of the
northeast, emergency rule is akin to lining them up to be
killed. This, they are rising to reject. The result? Everybody
is arming himself the best way they know how. This way
they are all soldiers defending their lives and livelihoods.
Violence have been democratised by the emergency rule and
who knows what becomes of these “civilian” JTF’s after the
war against Boko Haram is won? I leave that to your
imagination. The Senate may yet save the people by
denying Jonathan his request.
If all else fails, then Diariz God.

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