Akpan Ekereuwem, an Abuja-based constitutional lawyer, on Monday advised President Goodluck Jonathan against the activation of section 305 of the 1999 Constitution in spite of the occupation of some parts of the country by insurgents.
Ekereuwem gave the advice in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
The section provides for the declaration of a state of emergency in the country if it is in a state of war.
According to Ekereuwem, the security situation in the North East has not reached the height where the section of the constitution could be invoked.
The section empowers the president to issue the declaration by way of official gazette.
It further legitimises such action when the federation is in imminent danger of invasion or involvement in a state of war.
The provision allows all-inclusive state of emergency when there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security.
According to the law, the action becomes imminent when there is a clear and present danger of an actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger.
NAN reports that subsection 3(f) of the provision says such proclamation is necessary if there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the federation.
Ekereuwem said the Federal Government had the capacity to reclaim those territories with minimal aggression, adding that “nobody should contemplate abusing the provisions of the constitution in times like this’’.
“You must get me right; I am not saying that all the conditions prevalent in the North-East do not meet the laid down provisions as encapsulated in section 305.
“What I am driving at is for the president to continue to guide democratic tenets as he has in the past few years by not allowing room for haters of civil rule,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that the Senate on Nov. 13 said that the 2015 general elections could only be conducted on the condition that all the territories captured by the Boko Haram insurgents were reclaimed.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Sen. George Sekibo, made the remark while speaking with newsmen after a closed-door section with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen. Kenneth Minima, in Abuja.
On whether the general election would be conducted if the crisis continued unbated, Sekibo said elections could only go on if all the territories in the North-East lost to the insurgents were reclaimed.
On his part, the Chief of Army Staff said the military had had setbacks in Bassa in Borno, which resulted in the losses of the other territories up to Mubi.
“It is indeed disheartening. This is so because we are fighting an unconventional war.
“There is, however, a new pledge to engage the insurgents in order to reclaim the lost territories. The Army is working very hard to reclaim those territories,’’ he said.