Anambra State has been threatened yesterday by the Federal Government to invoke a state of emergency to ensure the sanctity of the November 6 governorship election.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, dropped the hint when he briefed correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.
Stakeholders in the Anambra election, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have raised the alarm over the upsurge in violent attacks on individuals and government facilities in Anambra as the governorship election in the state draws closer.
Meanwhile, angry reactions have trailed the state of emergency threat of the Federal Government.
Malami, however, said the Federal Government had the responsibility to sustain democratic order and would not hesitate to declare a state of emergency if the security situation in the state did not improve to allow peaceful conduct of election.
“When our national security is attacked, and the sanctity of our constitutionally guaranteed democracy is threatened, no possibility is ruled out.
As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure the sustenance of our democratic order, we have a responsibility to provide security to life and properties.
So, within the context of these constitutional obligations of the government or the desire to establish democratic norms and order, there is no possibility that is out ruled.
“And you cannot rule out possibilities, inclusive of possibility of declaration of state of emergency where it is established that there is a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.
So, our position as a government is that this elections are going to hold. And necessary security in terms of democratic order must certainly prevail for the purpose of this election,” he said.
The AGF assured that the government would do the needful in providing security for lives and properties in Anambra.
When asked whether the positions his office expressed on both the open grazing laws by states and on the Value Added Tax (VAT) would not influence the course of justice since the matters were in court.
Clarifies position on open grazing ban, Ready to challenge states up to S/Court over VAT
He replied: “Well, on the issue of farmers/ herders clashes, no position was taken by the Office of the Attorney General outside the scope of the constitutional provisions.
“The position of the Office of the Attorney General is about freedom and liberty of movement among others.
And what the Office of the Attorney General has simply succeeded in doing is making a reference to relevant constitutional provisions and established a position that each and every Nigerian is entitled to freedom of movement.
Simpliciter. So, the issue is whether that freedom of movement is constitutionally guaranteed or not. And my answer to it is the freedom of movement is indeed, constitutionally guaranteed.”
On governors push for states to collect VAT, he said the Federal Government was contemplating heading straight to the Supreme Court, which according to him, has jurisdiction over such matters.
“The Court of Appeal has granted an order of stay of execution, directing these state governments (Rivers and Lagos) to maintain status quo pending the determination of the main appeal and these matters are being considered for determination.
“And some other governors have filed in an application for joinder, seeking to be joined in the matter as interested parties.
But again, there is pending, equally, an application and preliminary objection for that matter, challenging the competence of the action and indeed the judgement that was obtained.
But the Federal Government is still looking at other possibilities, all options open in terms of challenging the action, the action of the state government.
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