geciafrica GLOBAL EMERGENCY AND COUNTERTERRORISM INSTITUTE
2 October 2017
Nigeria is effectively permanently in a state of emergency as the armed forces are deployed in more than 28 states of the federation in peacetime.
When speaking at a “Capacity/Interactive Needs Assessment Workshop of Security Sector Related Committees in the House of Representatives” in the capital, Abuja, the speaker of Nigeria's lower chamber, Yakubu Dogara said the deployment of the armed forces in more than 28 states means the country is effectively under a state of emergency in peacetime. He noted with concern that the Armed Forces have virtually taken over routine police work in Nigeria and that they are no longer acting in aid of civil authorities but have become the civil authorities. Dogara referred to Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution which defined the duties of the Armed Forces, contrary to what they were seen doing these days in many states of the federation. According to him:
“It is worrisome that Nigeria is effectively permanently in a state of emergency as the Armed Forces are deployed in more than 28 states of the federation in peacetime.”
Technically this means that the country is under a de facto state of emergency, meaning that it has not been officially declared in terms of the constitutional provisions; even though experiencing the effects of the state of emergency on the ground.
The fear appears real for a country that came out of military rule less than 20 years ago. As stated by Mr Dogara, the military used to exercise absolute control over government until the restoration of civilian rule in 1999.
His critics will say there are plenty of reasons for the army to be deployed, including an insurgency by Islamist militants in the north-east, a separatist agitation in the south-east, a threat to eject ethnic Igbos from the north and attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
The key security issue in Nigeria is strongly related to the Islamic group Boko Haram who recently became part of ISIS. Since 2009, Boko Haram has attacked schools, churches, mosques, abducted thousands of people (including the 276 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 that 82 were released in May 2017 following more than a year and half of negotiations) in a bid to ban so called western education and establish an "Islamic state" in the Borno state region of Nigeria. To date, it is estimated that the extremist movement has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009. Some 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes.
Francine Mungongo Director GECI