Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Self-determination Clause Shot-down By Delegates

Delegates to the National Conference monday rejected the clamour for constitutional recognition of the right to self-determination through a majority voice vote.

Before the votes were called on the amendment, supporters of the self-determination clause, lead by Mr. Tabi Taiwo had proposed to have a clause to the right to self-determination added to the Nigerian constitution to serve as a check to injustice and bad governance.

However, when the proposal was put to vote, delegates, most of whom saw it as an attempt to legalise secession, voted it out.

Meanwhile, an amendment to have the CJN to take number three position in order of government protocol after the Vice-President raised controversy when the Deputy Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi put it to vote.

The resulting voice vote by delegates failed to yield a clear winner, leading to noisy exchanges by those who opposed the move by Akinyemi to pass it. In order for calm to return during the plenary, the conference deputy chairman said that decision on the issue would be put on hold.

Delegates voted in support of the committee’s report recommending the separation of the Office of the Attorney General (AG) and that of the Minister of Justice.

It said the Attorney General for the Federal and states should be appointed for a single term of six years, instead of two terms of four years each, while qualification for the AG should be at least 15 years of legal practice.

It recommended a uniform retirement age of 70 years for all superior courts.
The delegates voted against what was considered a radical proposal to abolish powers of Attorney General to discontinue prosecution of cases.

On the issue of appointments of heads of key judiciary institutions, the conference approved that the President as the chairman of the Federal Judicial Service Commission should appoint a retired justice of the Supreme Court.

In the same vein, delegates voted into support of petition of the governorship election to end at the Court of Appeal.

A proposal for amendment to abolish death penalty was however stood down following bickering by delegates on the matter, while the conference resolved that cases dealing with trial of extra judicial killings should not exceed nine months.

The afternoon session of the conference witnessed a clash between pro-gender advocates and the moderates before the conference finally lay to rest the controversy on the issue of affirmative action on women participation in governance. The conference then passed an amendment that it should not be less than 35 per cent.

Delegates also voted that pregnant women and nursing mothers should be allowed two years to wean their child before serving their sentences, but attempt to remove the State High Court from the authority of the National Judicial Commission failed.

Debates on the report of the Committee on Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Reform also pitched delegates against each other with those advocating for a new constitution arguing issues with those drumming support for the retention of the status quo.

Leading those opposed to the discarding if the existing constitution, Bashir Dalhatu said, “If Nigerians are to accept that the existing constitution has expired, it means that President Jonathan will be asked to resign. This is because he is a product of the expired constitution. Also, the implication of discrediting the 1999 constitution should be that all the actions taken by all past civilian Presidents would be declared ineffective.

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