By Lukman Olabiyi
Rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana yesterday made case for secession agitators across the country before the Senate zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Lagos.
The two day zonal public hearing which entered day two on Thursday, is chaired by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and it covered Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo States.
Falana while giving insight on the memoranda he submitted before the committee, insisted that it was important to give secession agitators the confidence of peace and inclusion if they must remain as Nigerians.
The lawyer also advocated that the Child Rights Act enacted in 2003, and the Disability Act, be domesticated and implemented in states if the constitution review must make meaning to the common man.
Falana also proposed a change of name from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to the Nigerian Police Service (NPS). To him, there must be sanctions for impunity.
“Our country is ruled by 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 will get full employment”, he advocated.
Falana added: “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, don’t declare a war.
“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 succession. Don’t declare a war
“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.
“Chapter two of the constitution guarantees the right to education, health, living minimum wage, good adequate housing, unemployment benefits, among others, but members of the ruling class conspired and agreed, regardless of political affiliation, that these provisions shall not be enforceable or made justiciable. But 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.
“We are submitting that the Child Rights Act enacted in 2003 be made applicable throughout Nigeria, we have to work it out. As of today, only 25 states have adopted the law, but even then, not fully implemented. Unfortunately, it is states where banditry, kidnapping and terrorism thrive that have refused to adopt or domesticate the law, and that is where banditry, terrorism, and kidnappers recruit daily.
“We also advocate a 50/50 representation for men and women in government. We should emulate other African countries where women even take a larger percentage in government affairs”
Another SAN, Chief Wole Olanipekun, who was represented by his son, advocated that judicial outcome be respected and adhered to so that the common man can feel protected and their rights protected.
According to him, 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. Olanipekun also advocated that more judges be appointed into the Supreme Court to reduce the workload of judges.