Falana weighs in on name debate in Osun

Femi Falana

Human rights attorney, Femi Falana, is trading legal tackles with the Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim, who, Thursday in Abuja described the appellation, “State of Osun,” as illegal and unconstitutional.

The decision by the current administration in Osun State to characterize itself as “State of Osun,” rather that “Osun State” has been the subject of contention between federal authorities, and the administration in Osogbo.

The relationship took on a frosty turn last June when security agencies suggested, as the Osun state authorities claimed, that the state was incubating insurrection by the status tag, a suggestion that drew a furious push back from Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his information team.

Mr. Anyim’s resuscitation of the debate is a new chapter in the unending spat between the two governments, and Mr. Falana, now weighing in, falls short of characterizing the federal government scribe of deliberate trouble making by what he calls a “diversionary debate.”

As far as the legal terms go, Mr. Falana who is also a senior advocate of Nigeria, says “the statement credited to him [Mr. Ayim] cannot be justified under the 1999 Constitution.”

Citing the words of “Section 2(2) of the Constitution” Mr. Falana argues that “Nowhere is it stated in the Constitution that it is illegal to refer to any particular state government as the Government of a State.”

Section 2(2) states that: “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory while the thirty six States are listed in section 3(1) thereof and in the First Schedule to the Constitution. Specifically, section 3(2) of the Constitution provides that “each State of Nigeria named in the first column of Part 1 of the First Schedule to the Constitution, shall consist of the area shown opposite thereto in the second column of that schedule.”

He states further that in the said Part 1 of the First Schedule “the 36 States of the Federation are listed together with the local governments and the capital cities being the headquarters of the Governments of the States.”

Mr. Falana drew attention to the fact that section 176 of the Constitution refers to “the governor of a state” and not to a “state governor” while section 194 refers to the “government of a state” and not to a “state government,” adding, “section 90 of the Constitution provides for the establishment of “a House of Assembly for each of the states of the Federation” while section 270 refers to “the High Court of each State”.

Since there are no references to “state governors”, “state governments”, “state houses of assembly” and “state high courts” in the Constitution the adoption of the “State of Osun” is not illegal or unconstitutional.

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