Frontline Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, on Wednesday faulted the decision of the Federal High Court, Lagos, which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to deploy soldiers to monitor the forthcoming elections at polling stations, saying that President Goodluck Jonathan must deploy military for the polls if the country’s unity must be preserved.
Speaking yesterday at his Asokoro, Abuja residence shortly after he received Northern Youths from the 19 States and the Federal Capital Territory under the aegis of Northern Youth Stakeholders Forum, the Ijaw leader lambasted those kicking against the deployment of Soldiers as having a hidden agenda, adding that the judge (Ibrahim Buba) would have considered national security, the protection of lives and property before giving such a ruling.
The elder statesman, who noted that if violence erupts in any part of the country after the election because of lack of military personnel, critics of Mr. Jonathan would come up and tag him a weak president.
It would be recalled that Justice Ibrahim Buba, while delivering judgment on the case instituted by Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, pointed out that there was no part of the constitution “which empowers the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces to deploy military for election purposes”.
Reacting to the ruling, Clark said, “I am a lawyer by profession, national security is a matter which concerns everybody and no court can just simply rule that do not use soldiers without having due regard to the security of the nation of which the Judges are members there are sometimes you give judgments that have relevance to what is going on in that society. Certain judgments you give in Britain, you don’t give them even in the United States of America, not to talk of Nigeria.
“In 2011, immediately after the elections, you saw what happened, there was violence everywhere, many people were killed; youth corpers were killed – 10 of them in Bauchi of which one of them, my own son, I educated him, Eliot Edonwe in the University of Calabar, he went to do his youth corps assignment, a national job in Bauchi, and was killed with other ones. A family in Gombe, the Chairman of PDP in Gombe state, said he lost all the eleven members of his family and he couldn’t bear it and he died.
“Today, paltry sums of compensation being paid and today and yesterday, these families are gone and those who caused the violence, today are those who want to become president of Nigeria and they are the people saying no Soldiers should be used; they want to destroy this country and after destroying the country, which country are they going to govern?
“So, judges should have regard to the circumstances that prevail in the country at that particular time. In other words, the Military must be used together with the police for the safety, security of this country, for the survival of this country, for the unity of this country, I don’t know what part of the constitution they are quoting.
“Let me give you an example, the president declared state of emergency in the North East twice, when he asked for the third one, National Assembly refused, they now advised him that he has power under the constitution that he should go ahead to use the military.
“For a judge to say let the National Assembly give you the power, so the president should sit down when [the] home is burning, when the country is being destroyed? He has the responsibility for the safety and protection, security of this country. Election or no election that is the paramount duty.
“The same people who are criticising him now, the same people who are saying we don’t want the army because they have clandestine motive, hidden agenda, will be the ones who will criticise him that he is weak, that he could not protect the people and the property of Nigeria. The military must be used if we want to have one country”.