2 Nigerian States Where Olusegun Obasanjo Declared State of Emergency & Reasons Why He Did It

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo once declared a state of emergency in 2 Nigerian states. He had taken the decisions out of necessity to bring down the tides of the insecurity and disorderliness in the two states to normalcy.

Photo: Olusegun Obasanjo and 2 former governors

Credits || Canva

Declaring a state of emergency is not a new approach under a democratic system of government. It is ordered when there is anarchy getting out of proportion and control of the state authority. More importantly, when the loss of lives and properties are seemed to be getting out of hand. 

Even though people slammed the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN for proposing an apparent emergency rule in Anambra State, it is important to state that the idea is constitutional under the law. 

Under Nigeria’s 1999 constitution, the President is empowered to invoke the emergency rule in all or parts of the country at times of war or if there has been a breakdown of law and order for an initial period of not more than six months. 

The president is also required to seek a resolution by the national legislature endorsing the measure once it has been imposed.

However, if a government declares a state of emergency in an area, it introduces special measures such as increased capacities for the police or army, usually because of civil disorder or because of a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled between 1999 to 2007 had two states governed under the emergency rule. The States include Ekiti and Plateau. Read below what led to the decision: 

1. Plateau State

Image Credits || Punch

In 2004, he declared a state of emergency in the state following a Christian massacre of Muslims. That in turn led to reprisal killings of Christians in the northern city of Kano. This is contained in a report published by The New Humanitarian, TNH.

He had henceforth sacked the then governor, Joshua Dariye, and dissolved the state legislature. He had accused Dariye of failing to act to end a cycle of violence between the Plateau State's Muslim and Christian communities. 

It is on record that the religious crisis claimed more than 2,000 lives since September 2001. Of course, the state has always been the stage of bloodletting and killings over religious-related violence.

It has continued for years though on a minimal scale. Recall that dozens of Fulanis who were returning from Bauchi State heading to Ondo, Southern part of the country were murdered in cold blood in recent times. 

The incident which attracted wide condemnations later resulted in reprisal and religious attacks among the residents in the state. 

Obasanjo's declaration was the first time of its kind in any of the Nigerian 36 states since the country returned to the 4th Republic in 1999.

2. Ekiti State

Image Credits || Guardian

This is the second state where Olusegun had declared a state of emergency while in office. He had taken a decision when there was a political impasse in the state that led to anarchy and disorderliness. This is contained in a report published by Sahara Reporters in 2006.

The refusal of the 24 legislators in Ekiti State Assembly to allow the deputy Governor, Mrs. Olujimi to take over had led Obasanjo to chart a new course of action in the state. 

The lawmakers had jettisoned the democratic norm by swearing-in the speaker, Mr. Aderemi to act as acting governor. This was coming shortly after Governor Fayose had fled the state. 

Mrs. Olujimi who was backed by the National Chairman of the PDP, Ahmadu Alli, and Chief Bode George set up her parallel government, and curiously her security detail remained intact. 

The rebellious action of the state lawmakers didn't go down well with the president, this was why the Emergency rule was declared!

A retired army general, Tunji Olurin was then sworn in Abuja by President Obasanjo to take over as the sole administrator of Ekiti State.

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