As a follow up to their previous meeting in Asaba, Delta State, the southern governors set a timeline of September 1, 2021, for the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in all member states.
The governors had announced a total ban on open grazing in the region during the Asaba meeting.
On the state of insecurity, the southern governors re-emphasised the need for state police and urged the federal government not to be sentimental in the administration of criminal justice.
They also commiserated with families and loved ones of those who have fallen in the line of duty.
The forum also resolved that if for any reason security institutions needed to undertake an operation in any state, the chief security officer of the state which is the governor must be duly informed.
Responding to this part of the communiqué, Dr Baba-Ahmed said the position of the governors in demanding that they must be fully informed before security operations in their states take place was unacceptable.
He said there was nowhere in the Nigerian Constitution that said the president, who is the country’s chief security officer, must either get the consent or approval of a governor before exercising his responsibility.
“That is not the way to go,” he said. “The governors are members of the National Security Committee and a lot of these issues are matters that ought to be handled with some level of sensitivity and discretion and not to be thrown out in public as if they are demands which have no constitutional foundations. This particular decision taken by the southern governors has not been informed by the wisest decision-making process,” he said.
Some senior lawyers also said there was no constitutional provision for governors to give permission for security operations in their states. Prof. Paul Ananaba (SAN) said as the chief security officers of their states, the governors don’t control security agencies because security is not in the concurrent list but the exclusive list.
“They just want to cause trouble because there is no constitutional provision that would warrant them to say that,” he said.
“However, consistent with governance, there should be some understanding between the federal and state governments with respect to security. It is not fair and advisable to carry out security operations in the state without the permission of the governor.
“It ought to be down to the local government as the idea behind three-tier government, because it is the failure of the third tier that led to these insurrections in the country. Local government chairmen would have been able to take care of these things before they grow out of control,” he said.
Also responding, Sunday Ameh (SAN) said the states have only subsidiary powers to maintain security in their states although the constitution said security and welfare shall be the primary purpose of government.
“Security in Nigeria is like a unitary proposal so that the ultimate responsibility for national security lies with the president and he directs the Inspector General of Police, which is right from the top.
“Therefore, the governors cannot stop security operatives from operating in their states because when it comes to security, the president is ultimately responsible,” he said.
However, Prof Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) said the governors were right because as the chief security officers of their states, no security agency should be deployed to any state without their consent.