By Onozure Dania
The Lagos state government has promised to protect rights of citizens of the state jealously.
Speaking at commemoration of the World Human Rights day, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said that the World Human Rights a very unique opportunity for government and the people, to reflect on the collective efforts of to ensure that lip services were not paid to the issues of human rights in the society.
According to him, “the human rights day is an occasion for lawyers to reaffirm their commitment to Lagosians. We shall also continue to offer them the legal services as they may require” noting that government will champion and protect their inalienable rights.
He also gave assurance that any violation of human rights of any citizen of the state would not go without being redressed.
This according to the Commissioner was because a government can only be said “to be successful when every citizen in the society feels secure in the knowledge that any violation of fundamental rights will never go without redress”.
He remarked that the aim of every successive administration in Lagos state, since the advent of democratic governance, is justice delivery and to ensure that every citizen is guaranteed access to qualitative legal services irrespective of social standing, race, tribe, religion, level of affluence or political affiliation.
He further added that the human rights might be meaningless without provisions of qualitative legal assistance, adding that the state government had been at the vanguard of human rights protection in the state and had instituted several reforms for the purpose of advancing the human rights of every Lagosian.
Also speaking at the event the State Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro SAN, said that the government had suggested provisions of Chapter II, Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) that deals with the rights of the people be amended and be made justiciable in the on going review of the Cnstitution by the National Assembly.
Pedro said: “The provision dealing with right of the people to participate in their government is to be found under Chapter II of the constitution. As we all know, by virtue of section 6 (6) (c) of the Constitution, the judicial power of our court does not extend to any issue or question as to compliance with the provisions of Chapter II.
”It is my conviction that if some of the provisions are made justiciable, it will be a step in the right direction and thereby create a win-win situation for the people”, he said.
He stated that every Nigerian has a right to participate in the process of governance and decision making process of government and described it as an essential feature of democratic governance.
”Participation is a fundamental right of all the people. As we know, decisions made by the people on their own behalf will often be better than those made for them by other people because people know what they need in their own lives. This is in consonance with the African philosophy which is variously expressed as ‘he who wears the shoe, knows where it pinches’, he said.
He also remarked that history was replete with unpopular decisions which had been thrown into the dustbins because of the failure of government to seek the buy-in of the people.
The State’s Solicitor General stressed that for any public policy to be legitimate, there was the need for broad consultation and effective participation by the citizens.