A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and legal books author, Mr. Sebastine Hon, has said the speculation for a likely declaration of a state of emergency in Benue State following the killings by Fulani herdsmen was baseless.
Hon, a citizen of Benue State, said in a statement that the speculation that President Muhammadu Buhari could remove the Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom, to enforce the declaration of the state of emergency, lacked constitutional backing.
The statement titled, ‘A capital ‘NO’ to a state of emergency in Benue State’, read in part: “The social media is agog with speculations that the presidency will soon declare a state of emergency in Benue State. Some of the media postings are suggestive of the ‘power’ of the president to overthrow the governmental structures in that state and to replace same with a Sole Administrator."
“Such speculation, though, social media blogs, cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand, in view, especially, of the orchestrated violent demonstrations in Makurdi on Saturday by the Hausa-Fulani, two days after the burial of the victims of the New Year massacre."
“The power to proclaim a state of emergency by the Presidency is provided for by Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution; and there is nothing in that provision, clear or latent, which imbues the President, or any authority for that matter, with any scintilla of power to remove or overthrow elected or appointed state officials. There being no such enabling provision, therefore, such arbitrary power cannot be implied; and if exercised, will be clearly illegal and unlawful.”
Hon explained that Section 1(2) of the Constitution provides in clear terms that: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”
He argued, “the phrases ‘any person or group of persons’ and ‘any part thereof’ above mean that no authority or group of persons shall, under any guise whatsoever, take control of, in this case, Benue State, except as provided for in the Constitution itself."
“And of course, the only way a state governor can be removed from office or can vacate his office is by impeachment, death, sickness of such a magnitude as to impair him from performing the functions of his office, or by resignation."
“A State House of Assembly also has its constitutional lifespan, which cannot be trammeled or tampered with by any person or authority."
“Under our constitutional jurisprudence, therefore, both the appointer and the appointee to the office or position of Sole Administrator of a state will be acting in flagrant breach Section 1(2) and other relevant provisions of the Constitution.”