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Nigeria's Troubled State Under Emergency Rule


Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo Thursday declared emergency rule in Ekiti state, in the southwest. Confusion has reigned in the state following the unconstitutional impeachment of the governor earlier this week.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a televised address, described the power tussle in Ekiti state as a threat to national security.

The state governor, his deputy, who were purportedly removed by lawmakers on Monday, as well as the so-called acting governor and the state legislature, were all suspended with immediate effect.

Mr.Obasanjo appointed a retired army general to run the affairs of the state for the next six months.

The declaration of a state of emergency was not entirely unexpected, but may have confirmed speculation that the crisis was orchestrated by the administration to warrant emergency rule in the build up to crucial polls next year.

"The script has played out as planned. This was planned at the highest level," said Maxi Okwu, a political analyst in Abuja. "It was planned by the federal government because when you see the so-called acting governor enjoying full state protection, with security and everything, you ask yourself. There is no time the commissioner of police will take any position without clearing with the federal authorities. So, it was to create this face-off to enable emergency powers to be deployed. There is no break down of law and order."

In response to widely circulated conspiracy theories, President Obasanjo has often maintained he has no plans to stay in office beyond the end of his term next year.

An attempt to re-write the constitution to allow him stand for a third term was defeated in the senate earlier this year.

Okwu says recent political developments in Africa's most populous country points to an attempt by the president to perpetuate himself in office beyond the constitutionally allowed two-term.

"Most Nigerians in the field and some of us in the field, believe that Obasanjo has no plans of quitting office come 29th May, 2007," added Okwu. "Some of us, incurable optimists, hope this will not happen and we shall do our best to see that the transition is not truncated. But we are a minority and I pray to God that the president does not fall to this temptation. I believe that the entire script playing out points to that direction."

Troops and police are patrolling the streets of Ado Ekiti, the state capital, to stem possible violence.

Governors in Anambra in the southeast and Plateau in the central region are also facing impeachment threats, which analysts says could further heighten tension.

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