TERRORISM IN ANAMBRA STATE

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TERRORISM IN ANAMBRA STATE

 

by

 

Chris Aniedobe

 

 

 

culled from THISDAY, November 18, 2004

 

 

The November 10, 2004, mayhem in Anambra State is a continuing saga of events that are steeped in constitutional crises. It marks in the minds of political thinkers, a punctuating point in the unraveling of Nigeria as a constitutional democracy.

 

Those who characterize the mayhem as Igbo on Igbo crisis ignore the actions or inactions of the police, which are clearly culpable, and wherein the preponderance of the circumstantial evidence points to Aso rock as the proximate cause of the crises in Anambra State.  Whereas Igbo thugs are the alleged perpetrators of the terrorist acts against the good people of Anambra State, the underlying actors are the governmental or quasi-governmental authorities who sponsored, induced, or otherwise condoned, such acts of terror.  I write to give voice to the conscience of Nigerians shocked beyond belief at the moral retrograde of the people who dared to perpetrate these acts of terror under the cover of Igbo on Igbo violence.

 

The current crises in Anambra State is a continuing saga of events that gestated in the 2003 elections, and emerged as a terrible birth in the abduction of the duly sworn Governor of Anambra State by political thugs whose leading object is the control of the Anambra State treasury.  Over one year has elapsed since that terrible act of treason - an act openly hostile to a lawfully constituted government, with intent to overthrow the government - and no justice has been served. 

 

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party commuted an obvious act of treason to a mere family affair, the government gave armed police escort to Mr. Chris Uba with which he continued to terrorize the government and the people, those who had influence on the judiciary used all sorts of machinations to frustrate justice; an election tribunal with dubious objectives is still trying to decide who won the gubernatorial elections in Anambra State a year and half after the elections; and Mr. Uba is striding the political landscape like a behemoth, terrorizing and intimidating anyone who dared to question the validity of an illegal agreement between him and Ngige, to make him in effect, the surrogate governor of Anambra State.  I was present in an audience in the United States in August, 2004, at the last convention of the World Igbo Congress, where Mr. Uba openly confessed to rigging the elections and boasted about how he controls the Federal Government.  The Federal Government and PDP ignored the nose thumping at the electorate, and again ignored an act which is likely to give aid and comfort to Nigerian enemies.

What Mr. Uba could not do by being the surrogate governor of Anambra State, his avowed aim is apparently to do so indirectly by controlling the character and make-up of Local Government Administration in Anambra State.  By leading this brazen violation of the right of the people of Anambra State to live peaceably, in pursuit of their constitutionally guaranteed right to happiness, Mr. Uba is sending a clear signal to the world that the democratic right of the people to leaders of their own choosing shall not be accorded any respect, save on terms which he decrees, by assent of Aso rock which gives him aid, comfort, and power.  It is the role of Aso rock that I will now turn to. But before I do that, let me briefly deal with the constitutional status of Ngige.

Many reasonable Nigerians are befuddled by the constitutional status of Ngige.  For many, he is nothing but a co-conspirator with Chris Uba to violate the electoral will of the people and therefore, deserves to bear the consequences of his actions.  While I sympathize with that basic notion of the status of Ngige, it is nevertheless inaccurate. 

 

The first assignment of error is that those who see the crises in Anambra State as being between Ngige and Uba, use the wrong standard of review.  The correct standard of review is the best interest of the people of Anambra State.  Any scheme of justice between Ngige, Peter Obi, the APGA contender, and Chris Uba, that accounts for the interest of these parties, to the detriment of the interest of the electorate is incomplete.  Where justice is due, mere justice is never due justice.  The delay in adjudicating the challenge to Ngige's purported victory at the election has worked irreparable harm against the people of Anambra State.  Justice rendered over a year and a half after justice is due is not due justice.  The crises in Anambra State are symptomatic of the electoral crises welded into our unwieldy constitution.

 

Until the election tribunal currently sitting over Anambra State elections does complete justice, if at all, Chris Ngige, by the authority of the Nigerian constitution, is the recognised Governor of Anambra State.  For although the election is being contested, the constitution vested upon Ngige,  full, non-provisional rights to be the Chief Executive Officer of Anambra State, with all the rights, privileges and immunities thereto.  It is therefore wrong, for any persons, governmental agencies, political parties, or the Federal Executive, to attempt to contravene the authorities constitutionally vested upon him by acts reasonably calculated to undermine his authority. 

 

The withdrawal of police and security privileges for the Governor, for instance, runs contrary to the principle of political continuity, which is the fundamental principle that informed the rather retrograde act of swearing in public officers, whose electoral victory are in doubt.  In principle, if all the presumptive electees whose victories are being challenged are not vested with nonprovisional authorities, there might be no government in Nigeria.  That is the basis of the principle of political continuity.  Therefore, any arguments attempting to justify undermining Ngige's authority is contrived and spurious and without support in our current scheme of governance. 

 

It must be clearly apprehended that the moment the President, the Inspector General of Police, and the Attorney General of the Federation, strip Ngige of all police powers, they assume sole  responsibility for law and order in Anambra State.  Every account of the recent mayhem in Anambra State clearly shows the culpability of the police.  Their negligence is as glaring as it is heart breaking.  The people of Anambra State hold the President responsible for the break down of law and order in the state and will consider any statements calculated to shift the responsibility for law and order to Ngige as offensive to every reasonable standard of substantial morality.  And that naturally leads one to wonder what the motivation of anti-Ngige forces are, and in particular, the role and motivation of Aso rock.

 

The constitution of Nigeria, in a bid to secure unity, sought to strengthen the power at the center and in the process gave massive powers to the President, without suitable checks and balances, to protect the people against tyranny of a President interested in despotic powers.  Through innumerable actions which cannot pass constitutional muster, Obasanjo has proven to be the biggest despot in Africa of the millennium.  I have warned in numerous constitutional submissions that the centralization of police powers is fraught with abuse and will be flagrantly abused.  Every political intercourse between Obasanjo and the Igbo people have been extraordinarily police dominated.  From the elections, to the Chris Uba saga, to the Ojukwu incident, to the harassment of MASSOB, to the current terrorist acts, there is a common thread of using the police to attain personal ends.  In effect, the Federal Police have become Obasanjo's foot soldiers. 

 

What Mr. Obasanjo has done so far is exploit that glaring weakness in our constitution in ways that strain the imagination of reasonable people.  Other than a psychotic fixation on the destruction of Anambra State, it is hard to imagine why the Federal Government, with all the police powers at their disposal, will ignore a violent siege against a peace loving people, whom they are charged to protect.  It is a sad day for democracy when a constitutional state government cannot bring an errant citizen to order.  All attempts by Anambra State judiciary to bring Uba and his cohorts to order have been arrogantly rebuffed because he knows that the Federal police do the bidding of Obasanjo and not that of Ngige.  As such, the Federal Police look away as anarchy is fomented in Anambra State.  In effect, it amounts to a non-conventional warfare against Anambra State and the Igbo people. In conclusion, the causal chain of the recent mayhem ends in Aso rock in a manner that shocks the conscience and makes Aso rock directly culpable in the destruction of lives and properties in Anambra State.  The constitutional weaknesses that make, especially, the flagrant abuse of police powers in Nigeria possible, remain an open sore in our body politick.  Ultimately, if the Federal police cannot secure the lives and liberties of our people, people will take extra-judicial steps to attain the same end.  The continued abuse of police powers remains the most persistent and most avoidable threat to peace in Nigeria, and those who perpetrate such acts are sowing the very seeds that will unravel Nigeria as we know it.

 

Chris Aniedobe is an Attorney and Counselor at Law in the United States

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