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Comparative examination of exercise of emergency powers (Nigeria, India and Egypt)

Damfebo K. Derri
Perekedou James Fawei


The need for exercising emergency powers arises when a nation is faced with grave danger, which threatens the nation state and its citizens. So the power is exercised to save the nation and its citizens. The danger may be in the form of war, rebellion, national disaster or calamity such as a plague, flood, earthquake or any major catastrophe. The matter is constitutional, so constitutions of various countries make provisions for it. The emergency powers are usually vested in the President of the country. The problem is, some of the provisions are either vague or imprecise. In some cases, there are no time limits for the state of emergency. In such cases, chief executives (presidents) rely on such emergency powers of the constitution to perpetuate atrocities on the citizens indefinitely. So the main problem in exercise of emergency powers is abuse of such powers. Such abuse negates the objective of the declaration of state of emergency which is to protect the nation and its citizens from situations which threaten their safety. The challenge of exercise of emergency powers, therefore, is striking an appropriate balance between managing the threat to the nation state and protecting the people from abuse of such powers. In an attempt to chart a balance, this article examines the provisions of emergency powers in Nigeria, India and Egypt. It is found that exercise of emergency powers by the President has usually been based on political rather than for the exigent needs of the nation and its people. It is also found that whereas there is no public participation in Nigeria and India, the public has a role to play in Egypt especially when there is need to extend the period of state of emergency. The Egyptian approach is commendable because it acts as a check on executive arrogance.

Keywords: Emergency powers, comparative examination, Nigeria, India, Egypt