Deconstructing the Doctrine of State of Emergency in Nigeria: A Human Security Perspective

Uchenna Simeon


This article aims at deconstructing the notion of ‘State of Emergency’ as it is conceptualized within the Nigerian context. Though a federal state, under Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, only the President is empowered to declare a ‘State of Emergency’ in the country or any part of it with the exclusion of the States and Local Governments. Though Section 5(2)(a) vests in the Governor the executive powers of his state, he is not empowered to exercise emergency powers rather Section 305 (4) requires him to request the President to proclaim same in the event that any of the situations specified in subsection (3) (c), (d) and (e) of the same section. Meanwhile, Section 2 (2) of the same Constitution describes Nigeria as a federation consisting of states and a federal capital territory. Besides, Sub-section (3) describes the conditions that warrant such a proclamation to include war, looming threat of invasion, collapse of public order and safety, incidence of natural disaster as well as any other danger that undermine the existence of the federation while ignoring the threats to human security that equally undercut the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the country. Drawing from comparative analysis of qualitative data collected through secondary sources and appropriating of the theoretical paradigm of human security, this paper argues that the theory and practice of state of emergency in Nigeria is too reductionist and unitary in jurisdiction. The paper therefore recommends an expanded application of the doctrine of State of Emergency in terms of scope and jurisdiction to include threats to human security as well as the exercise of emergency powers by the three tiers of government that make up the federation.

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