…Says 2023 polls threatened
…As Olanipekun advocates true federalism, judicial reform
…Constitution Review waste of public funds —Afenifere
By Dayo Johnson & Olasunkanmi Akoni
HUMAN rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday, expressed worry that the 2023 general elections could be jeopardised because some parts of the country are experiencing what he described as a civil war.
Also, former president of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has advocated true federalism and immediate reform in the judicial system, among others.
The duo said this at the final sitting of the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution South-West Zonal Public Hearing, Lagos Center, held in Ikeja.
In his presentation, Falana condemned the rate of impunity in the country.
This, however, came on a day the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, described the ongoing process of amending the 1999 Constitution as an exercise in futility that cannot achieve any meaningful result.
But Falana, in his presentation, said: “Our country is ruled by the rule of the rulers, and not rule of law. People commit all manner of crime and get away with it because there are no sanctions. This must change. The Social Security Bill must also work, so that jobless people can get stipends, pending when they get full employment.
“What can we do very quickly to save this country which is on the verge of collapse? If you don’t want people to break away from Nigeria, we must give them confidence and a sense of belonging, don’t declare war.
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“Therefore, for the constitutional amendment to be fruitful, for us to have genuine outputs from this meeting, peace must reign. We must address Nigeria’s problem frontally. We must also give people the confidence of peace and inclusion if we must kill the cries for secession. Don’t declare war.
“In fact, in some parts of the country, the 2023 elections are already threatened.
“INEC offices are being burnt, police stations are being burnt. In that kind of atmosphere, we cannot pretend that there is political stability in our country.
“Essentially, I am making a case for the poor, the masses of our people who are generally not represented in fora of this nature which are most times for the elites and privileged among our people.
“Unless we are prepared to make these provisions justiciable and enforceable, this country will know no peace.
“Whatever constitution will come forth after now must make justiciable the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state without which there will be no political stability in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Mr. Olanipekun, represented by his son, Oladapo, said the Electoral Act should be amended to allow governorship election cases to terminate at the Supreme Court.
This, he said, is important to stem the tide of conflicting judgments arising from Appeal Courts.
Constitution Review waste of public funds —Afenifere
Meanwhile, Afenifere’s Secretary-General, Mr. Sola Ebiseni, who addressed newsmen in Akure, said an amendment of the constitution will not cure the anomalies in the country.
Ebiseni said: “Afenifere believes in and advocates fundamental restructuring of Nigeria for the reinvention of a constitution as the agreed principles of governing Nigeria and its diverse ethnic nationalities by our founding fathers, which will ultimately replace the imposed 1999 unitary constitution.
“Amending the constitution is an exercise in futility and a waste of time and public fund.”
Besides, he said: “We cannot claim to be the Federal Republic and be governed by a unitary constitution. We cannot claim to be in a democracy and be governed by a constitution that does not emanate from the people.
“Amendment will not cure the anomalies. You cannot put something on anything and expect it to stand.
“Every session of the two arms of the National Assembly, since 2007, has embarked on the same jamboree of constitutional amendment spending public funds on public hearings, without any result.
“The National Assembly is part of the issue to be determined in the process of restructuring and cannot legitimately be the judge in such exercise.”