INDICATIONS emerged on Monday that President Goodluck Jonathan was considering declaring a state of emergency in Kaduna State to curb the spate of violence that followed Sunday’s bombings of three churches.
Jonathan on Monday held separate meetings with the Senate President, David Mark; Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Musdapher Dahiru; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Sources said the meetings centred on the possibility of imposing a state of emergency if the reprisals in the state continued.
A source who refused to give a detailed account of the meetings between the President and his guests however said Jonathan was “deeply sad and disturbed” by the reprisals.
Mark, during a brief chat with journalists at the end of his discussion with Jonathan refused to disclose the subject of his meeting with the President, saying he was on “just a normal visit” to the Villa.
Asked why his “just normal visit” coincided with that of the CJN, the Senate President said, “I didn’t see the CJN”. He however enjoined “the people” to refrain from reprisals but to “take solace in God.”
“Vengeance is not ours. We must leave vengeance to God; continue to appeal to the people who are behind it to reason and put this off because it is not in the interest of this country,” he said.
The bombings of the churches in Zaria and Kaduna metropolis triggered reprisals by Christian youths on Sunday with no fewer than 40 persons killed.
In spite of the imposition of 24-hour curfew by Governor Patrick Yakowa, violent attacks had continued on Monday even as the casualty figure rose to 66 while 140 injured persons were receiving treatment at various hospitals.
“In view of the incidents and the need to have normalcy and to forestall further breakdown of law and order, the state government has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the whole state. The curfew hours start with immediate effect until further notice’” Yakowa had said in a statement.
The bombed churches included the Christ the King Catholic Church at the Sabo Gari area of Zaria; ECWA Goodnews Church; and the Shalom Pentecostal Church on the Western Byepass, Trikania.
As soon as news of the attacks on the churches filtered to town, youths started making bonfires in Sabon Tasha, Television, Trikania and other Christian dominated parts of Kaduna, where they chased traders.
The President, under section 305(1) of the Constitution, has powers to declare a state of emergency in any part of the country with a threat to national peace.
Wikipedia explains a state of emergency as a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans.
It can also be used as a rationale for suspending rights and freedoms, even if guaranteed under the constitution. Such declarations usually come during a time of natural or man-made disaster, during periods of civil unrest, or following a declaration of war or situation of international or internal armed conflict.
The violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, inthe past two years, has been prosecuting a bombing campaign in the northern part of the country, including the Federal Capital City of Abuja.
The sect’s record of attacks on churches included the Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, during which 46 parishioners were killed.