Memo To My
A Case For A State
Of Emergency In Anambra State
December 31, 2004
The Senate will debate the Anambra
crisis on January 11th 2005, on return from recess being the “next” legislative
day pursuant to Senate Standing Rule Order 42 brought by Senator G. Gandi, on
the last legislative day.
But before the issue is put and the battle is joined, I wish to make a case for
a State of Emergency in Anambra State. This exercise will enable you to
dispassionately look into the matter in solemn environment without any external
It is my submission that a State of Emergency be declared in Anambra State as
the only way forward or out, from this intractable crisis, which has defied
solutions. It is inevitable, imperative and incontrovertible. Events in the past
few weeks have thrown up a new “moral” dimension to the matter. We are boxed
into a tight corner where the ruling party has confessed to and or accepted that
the election was not won, but “stolen”. The President recently confirmed his own
personal knowledge of such confessions.
The moral burden and responsibility are not only invested in the leadership of
the party but also of the country vis-a-viz, the President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It supercedes all other
considerations known to human in this matter. For the President, the leadership
of the ruling party,and the nation as a whole to discharge and acquit themselves
from the moral responsibility arising from the Anambra saga the thing to do is
for the President to declare a State of Emergency in that State forthwith. It is
the only way to demonstrate transparency beyond all reasonable doubt.
This is the moment to drop heads in very serious somber considerations. It is
not a moment to beat chest in an “I told you so” mood. To do that will attempt
to trivialize the issue. My distinguished colleagues, you will recall that
nearly a year ago, at the initial stage of the crisis, I put a case forward, for
consideration for a State of Emergency. The idea was promptly nipped in the bud
without any consideration as it was aborted. Had we acted then, the carnage and
destruction we lately experienced would not have occurred. Anambra crisis would
have been solved and forgotten, as is the case in Plateau State. It has been
proved and established that a State of Emergency is an instrument of peace. It
worked in Plateau; it will work in Anambra State.
In Anambra, we have a situation where none of the combatants will reason or
listen. They proved that compromise would not be accepted by the parties. Thus
the case is to “clear” the deck and start a new, giving Anambra people a chance
to pull back a little and reflect in a manner to solve their problems. At least,
as the State of Emergency lasts, the Election Tribunal will continue its work
with speed and alacrity. None of the parties will continue to manipulate court
process fraudulently as a tactic to buy time. We know in this chamber that
either of the parties can continue to render the tribunal’s work redundant. But
with the deck cleared, the reverse will be the case. All the parties to the
dispute will hasten to see speed in order to come to a conclusion. It will
introduce a change of gear in the Tribunal’s business.
A State of Emergency will provide the basis for a moral and political solution.
This matter does not earn a criminal solution. The advantages of a moral and
political solution are so obvious and numerous that it does not require
enumeration. The crisis is tearing the ruling party to shreds. A State of
Emergency will arrest the decay and dispute in leadership of the PDP. It will
propel the combatants to reason after due reflections. Consequently, I urge
you, let us not lose this opportunity. The challenge before us, as the 109 “Wise
Men” of Nigeria is, - “If Not by State of Emergency”, which way is the solution
to be found?
I wish to share confidence with my colleagues. For those of us near and familiar
with Anambra politics and terrain, intelligence shows that both sides are now
busy regrouping and getting ready for another round of destruction. Simply put
your ears to the ground and you will hear the drums of war rumbling. The people
of Anambra State will tell you that what is on ground now is not acceptable to
them. They will tell you the deck should be cleared. They will tell you that
they are tired of the bickerings arising from the dispute in all its
ramifications, shape or form. They will tell you that they want to start
afresh. May I at this juncture refer you to the metaphor about two armed
robbers trying to share their loot as employed by the President in his letter to
Chief Ogbeh. In such circumstance, the just action to take is to deprive both of
the proceeds of the crime.
By the way, I am within a walking distance to Ihiala in Anambra State. We are
neighbours, and my political exposure spans the entire Eastern Region and the
South-East. I have knowledge of the terrain, enough to understand the under
I am aware that the question has arisen in some quarters as to whether a State
of Emergency in Anambra would not amount to giving victory to one of the
parties. My attitude to this, however, is that we should be able to discern what
really constitutes the interest of the generality of the people of Anambra
State. What we should be concerned with is victory for the generality of
Anambrarians, the common man in the streets of Awka, Onitsha, Ihiala, Nnewi etc.
whom peace has eluded for the past eighteen months or so. This distinguished
Senate should not blind itself with sympathies for any one of the parties. Its
focal point should be what is good for the helpless people of the state. As far
as I know, it is peace. And to achieve it, we must eschew sentiments.
It has also been said in some quarters that the situation in Anambra is not the
same with what it was in Plateau that necessitated the imposition of a State of
Emergency in the latter. In my view, this type of reasoning is too ordinary for
us as leaders to be part of it. As leaders, we should show more rigor in our
assessment of any given situation. Contrary to that argument, I can state
without any fear of contradiction that the situation in Anambra poses far more
danger than what we had in Plateau. Agreed, the crisis in Plateau was more
widespread. But it was largely unorganized and spontaneous. Hence, the security
agencies were able to infiltrate and cow the perpetrators into submission with
ease. But in the case of Anambra, we are faced with a situation where the two
parties have the wherewithal to avail themselves of water-tight organization.
One of the parties is headed by a sitting governor who has enormous resources at
his disposal. The other is headed by unknown persons reputed to be stupendously
wealthy and highly connected, both at home and abroad.
Distinguished colleagues, we all witnessed the sophistication with which the
parties unleashed mayhem on the state lately; in a commando-like manner that
completely overwhelmed the security agencies. Yes, there has been this
insinuation that the security agencies connived with one of the factions. But
nobody has proved it. As far as I am concerned, the security agencies were
simply overwhelmed by the bravado of the perpetrators who showed that their
actions were well articulated, rehearsed and tamper-proof.
Distinguished colleagues, if the other party was taken unawares the other time,
should we, by any stretch of imagination, expect that it would allow itself to
be beaten to it a second time? Does it not follow logically that it would by now
be organizing itself either to go on the offensive or at least in self defence.
This places before us a scenario whereby we have two highly organized and
sophisticated parties ready to slug it out at the slightest provocation. Do we
need anybody to tell us that the slightest move by any of the parties next time
will spark off a full blown war in that part of the country? Distinguished
Senators, the 109 of us will not sit in this chambers once an armed
insurrection, of the dimension I can clearly see in Anambra, erupts. By that
time, it will be too late.
To summarize, I am saying that if there is a fire next time in Anambra, what
happened in Plateau will become a child’s play. In other words, I am submitting
that if a State of Emergency was necessary for Plateau, the situation in Anambra
makes it even more imperative. Unlike in Plateau where the combat was largely
uncoordinated, the crisis in Anambra is deliberate, slow and systematic. In
Plateau we probably were not warned sufficiently. In Anambra we have been warned
over and over again. In any case, is it not said that once beaten twice shy.
We should not encourage and condone one robber out of two, appropriating the
fruits of the robbery. Both should be deprived, that is Justice; moral and
political. In the same vein, Nigeria is not ready for more revelations that
tarnishes our image externally. We do not know how far this will go. It is
better halted now by the introduction of State of Emergency.
We know what the State of Emergency will bring, the consequences, positive and
negative. It is not a journey into the unknown. The advantages override the
disadvantages. You may say, the devil you know you can contain. But, we do not
know what the future holds without the State of Emergency.
The consequences of a journey in the dark cannot be controlled. A repeat of the
mistake 10 months ago when we backed-off or back pedaled from a State of
Emergency should be avoided. Look at what the result has been. What has happened
since then? We could not have anticipated or contemplated the consequences at
that time. If we do not take advantage to act now, the consequences will be out
of this world. Let us resolve to persuade the President to declare a State of
Emergency, Now in Anambra State.
• Senator Nzeribe wrote from Abuja.