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Contest and plunge Nigeria into violence, anarchy, Northern delegates warn Jonathan, others

By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – NORTHERN delegates at the on- going National Conference have threatened that if President Goodluck Jonathan presents himself for re- election in the 2015 presidential election, it would plunge the country into political chaos.

According to the Northern delegates, the draft  Constitution as prepared by the Justice Idris  Kutigi led Secretariat was a third term agenda designed primarily to allow for President Jonathan, other incumbent elective office holders whom they alleged as not qualified to contest to run for the election, even as they warned that if allowed to sail through, it has  the potential of throwing the country into violence and anarchy.

Addressing Journalists Tuesday at Gombe Jewel Hotel, Wuse 11, Abuja, Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF and former Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Coomasie warned that if the document which he described as a third term agenda was not killed at the conference, it would like in 2005, lead to anarchy, violence and chaos.

The northern delegates who distanced themselves from the draft Constitution, however noted that its appearance on Monday was a surprise to them as well as shocking and what they described as disappointment to them as northern delegates and Nigerians in general, just a they said  that as members of the National Conference and by constitution, it was not within the purview of delegates to draft a new constitution, adding that the document was illegal.

IGP Ibrahim Coomasie, addressing Journalists with Mohammed Umara Kumalia to his right; Lt. Gen. Jerry Useni; Prof. Iyorchia Ayu; Air Vice Marshal Mutari Mohammed; AVM Mutari Mohammed. Pictures by Henry Umoru
IGP Ibrahim Coomasie, addressing Journalists with Mohammed Umara Kumalia to his right; Lt. Gen. Jerry Useni; Prof. Iyorchia Ayu; Air Vice Marshal Mutari Mohammed; AVM Mutari Mohammed. Pictures by Henry Umoru

Coomasie said, ” Given the observation under (iv) above, adopting a new Constitution is therefore calculated to enable incumbent elective office holders who are statute-barred from going for 3rd Term at both Federal and State levels, to run for offices again under the guise of running under a new Constitution. This will also have the consequential effect of depriving aspiring politicians from all political parties, as well as all Nigerians, of their rights to choices and preferences as enshrined in the constitution.

“If not arrested, the 3rd Term agenda, as in the past (2005), is capable of plunging Nigeria into another circle of political chaos with potential of violence and anarchy.

“We, Northern Delegates to the Conference wish to assure patriotic Nigerians, and all lovers of democracy, that we are neither privy to, nor were we accessory to the emergence of the controversial “New Draft Constitution 2014”. We, therefore, unequivocally disown it, and emphatically disassociate ourselves from it. Accordingly, we will have nothing to do with it, for the following legal, moral and political reasons:

“Delegates to the conference were not elected, and therefore lack both legal, and moral authority to draft a new constitution for the Nigerian Federation. Rather, we were constituted to serve as an ad hoc advisory mechanism for to The President, as representatives of broad interests across the federation, and cannot, therefore, legally arrogate ourselves the far-reaching function of making a “new” constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That can only be done by an appropriately constituted Constituent Assembly.

“The Secretariat of the Conference has indicated in chapter 7 of the draft Report Vol. 1 that the so called ‘new Constitution’ is to be brought into effect through a national referendum to be specifically held for the purpose. To this we say, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no legal provision in our Constitution for the holding of such a referendum. The reference to a referendum, made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his inauguration address at the National Conference on 17th March
2014, was purely speculative, as it was predicated on the National Assembly introducing a provision in the Constitution that will permit the holding of referendum
“… if at the end of the de liberation the need for a referendum arises”. We want to say, with authority, that such a proposal has since been turned down by the National Assembly. Inquiries at both the Senate and House of Representatives have since shown that efforts at tabling the case for referendum, through private member-bills, were rejected twice, and cannot, therefore, be reintroduced in the life of the present Senate.

“From the foregoing, it is now abundantly clear that the conference has been infiltrated by fifth -columnists whose goal is to subvert democratic processes and plunge the country into deeper, but avoidable political Crisis.
(iv) To all intent and purposes, the introduction of a “new
Constitution 2014” for Nigeria, is a calculated attempt by some people to take advantage of Court of Appeal’s ruling in 2003, as delivered by Justice George Adesola Oguntade, (JCA as he then was) in the celebrated case of Attorney-General of the Federation Vs. ANPP, and Others (A.G, Fed. v. A.N.P.P. [2003] 15 NWLR (Pt. 844).

“Wherein Governor Abubakar Abdu of Kogi State (then) was challenged over his eligibility to run for a second term in 2003, having had a first term which ended in May 2003. The contention was that having been champion and uphold democratic principles, as enshrined in the constitution and other legitimate sources of law-making.”

It would be recalled that as delegates resumed plenary on Monday after a month break,  the Conference Secretariat prepared a draft Constitution to be sent to the National Assembly which was distributed along side the Bill and two volumes of the final report of the Conference to delegates. It contained  some alterations in the Constitution as part of the recommendations  during Committee sittings and plenary.

Coomasie, a delegate representing the North West Zone was flanked at the briefing after the over two hours meeting of the Northern Delegates by Mohammed Umara Kumalia; Lt. Gen. Jerry Useni; Prof. Iyorchia Ayu; Bashir Dalhatu; Gen. Salihu Ibrahim; Amb. Ibrahim Gambari; Air Vice Marshal Mutari Mohammed; Emir of Askira, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibn Muhammed.

The hall was full to the brim by the Northern Delegates. Some delegates who were present include,  Senator Saidu Dansadau; Col. Bala Mande; Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai: Senator Ahmed Aruwa; Hajia Aishatu Isma’il; Gen. A.B. Mamman; Arc. Ibrahim Bunu; Sani Zoro; Hauwa Evelyn Shekarau; Nurudeen Lemu; Naseer Kura; Ishaq Modibbo Kawu; Magaji Dambatta; among others.

After reading the five page text, Coomasie and other delegates however refused questions from Journalists.

The text read in full, “You are welcome, and we thank you for responding to our invitation.
Our purpose for holding this press conference is to brief you, and through you the entire country, about the latest developments at this crucial stage of the 2014 National Conference. As citizens of Nigeria, we are greatly concerned about this development and its wider implications to sustainable democracy, political stability, peace, and development of our Country.

“The first indication that there was going to be problem was on Monday 30th June, 2014, when a front page report in a national daily (Daily Trust) alleged that a member of the leadership of the conference had been lobbying members of the Northern Delegation to be able to smuggle in a “new constitution” at the conference. A delegate drew the attention of the Conference to the publication under MATTERS OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE:  the integrity of the Leadership of the Conference and it was demanded that the Leadership should make a categorical statement on the issue.

“The Leadership claimed ignorance of the existence of any such document and demanded to see a copy of it. This was immediately made available, and after going though it, the Conference Chairman made the following statement as reflected in the Conference Hansard of Monday 30th June, 2014, on page 14:

“We know nothing about the paper in circulation. We know nothing of the consideration of any Committee, we formed no Committee apart from the standing Committee we set up …We are not aware of that…We have nothing to do with it. That matter should be closed!”

“Ordinarily, the matter of a “new constitution” should have died a natural death. But that was not to be. The issue was brought over and over again in the course of plenary sessions, but each time it was overwhelmingly rejected by the delegates. And when attempts were made to bring in the issue of “referendum”, as a means of actualising the outcome of the conference, it was always strongly and painstakingly explained that the operating Constitution does not have any provision for such a referendum. The only instance when a referendum can be held is in relation to the creation of new states or boundry adjustment, per the provision of Section 8 of the CFRN 1999 (as amended).

“You are aware, by now, of the surprise, shock and disappointment with which not only delegates to the conference, but many patriotic Nigerians, have reacted to news of the sudden appearance of a “New Draft Constitution 2014”, among other documents distributed to delegates, when we resumed at plenary, last Monday, August, 11, 2014.

“We, Northern Delegates to the Conference wish to assure patriotic Nigerians, and all lovers of democracy, that we are neither privy to, nor were we accessory to the emergence of the controversial “New Draft Constitution 2014”. We, therefore, unequivocally disown it, and emphatically disassociate ourselves from it. Accordingly, we will have nothing to do with it, for the following legal, moral and political reasons:

“(i) Delegates to the conference were not elected, and therefore lack both legal, and moral authority to draft a new constitution for the Nigerian Federation. Rather, we were constituted to serve as an ad hoc advisory mechanism for to The President, as representatives of   broad interests across the federation, and cannot, therefore, legally arrogate ourselves the far-reaching function of making a “new” constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That can only be done by an appropriately constituted Constituent Assembly.
(ii) The Secretariat of the Conference has indicated in chapter 7 of the draft Report Vol. 1 that the so called ‘new Constitution’ is to be brought into effect through a national referendum to be specifically held for the purpose. To this we say, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no legal provision in our Constitution for the holding of such a referendum. The reference to a referendum, made by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his inauguration address at the National Conference on 17th March 2014, was purely speculative, as it was predicated on the National Assembly introducing a provision in the Constitution that will permit the holding of referendum “… if at the end of the deliberation the need for a referendum arises”. We want to say, with authority, that such a proposal has since been turned down by the National Assembly.  Inquiries at both the Senate and House of Representatives have since shown that efforts at tabling the case for referendum, through private member-bills, were rejected twice, and cannot, therefore, be reintroduced in the life of the present Senate.

(iii) From the foregoing, it is now abundantly clear that the conference has been infiltrated by fifth-columnists whose goal is to subvert democratic processes and plunge the country into deeper, but avoidable political crisis.
(iv) To all intent and purposes, the introduction of a “new Constitution 2014” for Nigeria, is a calculated attempt by some people to take advantage of Court of Appeal’s ruling in 2003, as delivered by  Justice George Adesola Oguntade, (JCA as he then was) in the celebrated case of Attorney-General of the Federation Vs. ANPP, and Others (A.G, Fed. v. A.N.P.P. [2003] 15 NWLR (Pt. 844). Wherein Governor Abubakar Abdu of Kogi State (then) was challenged over his eligibility to run for a second term in 2003, having had a first term which ended in May 2003. The contention was that having been elected Kogi State Governor in 1991, his tenure 1991 – 1993 should be regarded as a first term and the tenure 1999 – 2003 should have been regarded as second term. Accordingly, he should stand barred from contesting for another term in the 2003 election, as that would amount to a violation of the subsisting Constitution, which has provided that a person could only be elected into the office of a State Governor for two terms and no more.

“In that decision, the Court of Appeal upheld the eligibility of Governor Abubakar Audu of Kogi State, to stand for re-election as Governor, on the ground that his first tenure (1991-’93) was under a completely different Constitution (CFRN 1989), while the country was at the material time operating the 1999 Constitution, which was a new Constitution.

“(v) Given the observation under (iv) above, adopting a new Constitution is therefore calculated to enable incumbent elective office holders who are statute-barred from going for 3rd Term at both Federal and State levels, to run for offices again under the guise of running under a new Constitution. This will also have the consequential effect of depriving aspiring politicians from all political parties, as well as all Nigerians, of their rights to choices and preferences as enshrined in the constitution.

(vi) If not arrested, the 3rd Term agenda, as in the past (2005), is capable of plunging Nigeria into another circle of political chaos with potential of violence and anarchy.

“We, as pan-Nigerians and democrats reject this agenda, in its entirety and call on stakeholders of all  persuasions and institutions especially political parties, national and state houses of assembly, the media, Civil Society Organizations, faith based organisation women, youths, etc., to reject same, and continue to champion and uphold democratic principles, as enshrined in the constitution and other legitimate sources of law-making .

Thank you, and God bless.”


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