Lagos-based lawyer, Festus Keyamo, has said the state of emergency declared in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States by President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, was long overdue.
Keyamo, in a statement shortly after Jonathan declared the state of emergency, said the bloodletting in the three states and carnage by insurgents necessitated such a move.
He said the step taken by the President must be appreciated in the light of the refusal of the insurgents to accept dialogue in resolving their grievance.
He said with the primary duty of government as the protection of lives and properties, it remains right for the government to find a lasting solution to the insecurity in the North.
Keyamo said in the statement: “The declaration of a State of Emergency by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States as a result of months of ceaseless bloodshed and carnage by insurgents is a step that has long been overdue. The bloodletting in these States left the President with no other option but to take this extraordinary step. This step must be appreciated in the light of the refusal of the insurgents to even dialogue with the Federal Government.
“The primary duty of any Government is to protect lives and properties and it is only right that government should dig deep to find a lasting solution to this ceaseless carnage.
“However, there are strong caveats we must issue to government in respect of this extraordinary action:
“(1) That government must not in any way politicize this action. It is constitutionally correct that the President did not attempt to suspend the Governors from office as nothing in Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) gives him such a power. What Obasanjo did in the past in suspending Governors through a declaration of a State of Emergency was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void. Unfortunately, none of the Governors had the mettle to challenge him in court.
“(2) That the military must be careful at all times not to trample on the fundamental rights of innocent citizens in these States, so that they do not become the scourge rather than solution.
“(3) The President must follow all the steps required in Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to legitimize his action.
“(4) That the moment calm is restored, the troops must return to the barracks so as not to give the military unholy ideas about their role in our democracy.
“We all owe it a duty to assist government to restore law and order in the country. It is for our overall benefit.”