Lawyers seek support for constitution review

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Some lawyers in Lagos State  have called on Nigerians to support the ongoing process toward the review of the 1999 Constitution.

The lawyers, in  interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, said that it had become imperative to undertake a holistic review of the nation’s constitution. 

NAN reports that Senate President Ahmad Lawan recently announced membership of a 56-man Steering and Constitution Review Committee.

The review began with public hearing at two centres  in each geopolitical zone in May 26 and May 27.

The lawyers who spoke with NAN are Chukwuemeka Nwuli, Blessing Dokubo and Paul Obishai. 

Obishai, a technology law expert, said that review of the constitution  and subsequent amendment were  crucial.

He urged that priority attention should be given to absolute autonomy for states.

According to him, there is encroachment on the rights of state governments by the Federal Government, especially in the area of security.

Obishai added that the constitution should also be amended to aid fiscal autonomy of states and  their abilities to generate funds internally.

“The government should activate Chapter Two of the 1999 Constitution and make it justiciable.

” Citizens should be able to sue the government on social security rights inherent in Chapter Two,” he said.

Similarly, Dokubo, a constitutional lawyer, urged the National Assembly to accomplish amendment of the constitution.

She said  that the amendment was a huge but necessary task.

The lawyer said there was a lacuna in the country’s constitution that needed to be filled with an amendment.

“Our constitution cannot be absolute, but we can try to make it as airtight as possible.

“For instance, our next election is not that far off, we can amend the constitution for better election tribunal proceedings, more stringent process for appointment of electoral officers and overhauling of our voting procedures.

“As a woman, I would also love to see constitutional laws that help to get more women into positions of power,” she said.

On his part, Nwuli, a corporate affairs lawyer, said that there should be clearer separation of powers in the constitution, adding that the arms of government needed to be absolutely independent of each other.

He said that if an amendment would not be feasible at the moment, more laws should be enacted to breach the gap.

Nwuli said the amendment of the constitution would  aid the fight against corruption.

“Nigeria also needs younger minds to impact on the economy.

“The eligibility ages of citizens that should   run for offices should be reduced; we need fresher eyes in government,” he said.

NAN  reports that the last constitutional amendment was in January 2011. (NAN)