Constitution Review: Participants at consultative fora urge scrapping of immunity clause

President of the Senate, David Mark

Rep Suleiman Kwande (DPP, Plateau) on Saturday expressed delight over the massive turnout for the public congress on the review of the 1999 constitution.

Mr. Kwande, who represents Jos North and Bassa Federal Constituency, described the event a “100 per cent success” as it was graced by people from all strata of the society.

“I am just very happy and impressed that traditional rulers, opinion leaders and politicians graced the occasion

“I am also happy that many serving members of the State and National Assemblies, including the senator representing my constituency, are here.

“At the National Assembly, many of my colleagues advised me not hold the event for fear that it could trigger violence.

“Even the security chiefs in Jos asked me to shelve the idea since the meeting will bring the warring parties under one roof.”

Mr. Kwande commended the traditional and opinion leaders for speaking to their subjects on the importance of the event, stressing that the amendment of the constitution was crucial to national growth.

In his remarks, Sen. Gyang Pwohjok (PDP- Plateau North), said that they decided to come together so as to make the event successful.

“Since we are representing the same people, it is our duty to come together and work as a team for their own benefit.

“We are also going to organise another event on Monday for the six local governments under the senatorial zone,” he said.

Senator Pwajok commended the people for their display of maturity during the event and advised them to put the dark days of violence behind and work towards enjoying the dividends of democracy.

In Bauchi, Tukur Adamu, representing Alkaleri/Kirfi Federal Constituencies, has assured his constituents that the deliberations of the people’s public session on the review of the 1999 constitution would be delivered intact to the National Assembly.

Mr. Adamu gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Alkaleri, venue of the sitting.

He said that the exercise was designed to bring the people closer to governance through popular participation in decision making.

“The House of Assembly wants to see that the people at the grassroots participate in the review of the 1999 constitution which had received a lot of criticism because it was an outcome of the military.

“This participation by the people will be taken to the Assembly and surely the voice of the people will prevail in all decisions they take here today.”

He described the turnout as encouraging, adding that the observed lapses in the process would be corrected.

“I have observed that the process of translation of the written text was a bit cumbersome for our people.

We had to find somebody very competent in translation to do this. Next time, the people will have questions that are self-explanatory.”

In a separate interview, Garba Sabo, the Chairman of Kirfi Local Government, told described the session was a historical event in the lives of not only Alkaleri/Kirfi constituents but also the entire nation.

“Some of us are above 40 years of age but we had never seen such a process of democratic participation.

“It is a thing that should be imbibed by  the three tiers of government in making people participate in decisions that affect them directly.”

NAN reports that a 16-man committee was set up by the two local governments to coordinate the session which was attended by traditional rulers, youth leaders, members of the NUT and NUJ, among others.

Meanwhile, in Rivers, the people of Port Harcourt Federal Constituency II on Saturday voted for the creation of only one additional state in the South-east zone.

During the Peoples’ Public session the participants voted on the 43 items in the template prepared by the House of the Representatives for the ongoing process of the review of the 1999 Nigerian constitution.

They advocated the recognition of the six geo-political zones in the constitution for administrative purposes only and should not be included as another tier of government.

The people also said no to the indigeneship clause which meant that any person residing for a long period continuously in an area should be entitled to accruing rights, duties and privileges.

They also opposed the idea of allowing state governments to create local governments and fund them accordingly.

The constituents voted in favour of the local governments being accorded the status of the third tier of government with its own legislative list.

They called for the abolition of joint State/Local Government Account, State Independent Electoral Commission and the removal of immunity from the president, vice president, governor and deputy governor on criminal matters.

The people also voted against the establishment of State Police and the idea of state governors having control over police commissioners in their respective states.

The constituents, who consented to 28 out of the  43 items in the template, said that gender issues, including reserving certain percentage of elective offices for women should be enshrined in the constitution.

The member representing the constituency, Blessing Nsiegbe, explained that the exercise was designed  by the House of the Representatives to get the people involved in the constitution review process.

According to her, the National Assembly wants a constitution that will be the people’s constitution.

Mr. Nsiegbe said that the importance of the exercise could not be over-emphasized since the constitution, when amended, would be for the progress of the democracy and the economy.

Also in Ilorin, stakeholders who attended the public session on the review of the 1999 constitution on Saturday called for the scrapping of the immunity clause.

They called for the creation of an additional local government in the llorin emirate to bring governance nearer to the people at the grassroots.

They voted in favour of a single five-year term for the president, governors and local government chairmen.

In his submission, the former Secretary to Kwara Government, Saka Isau, expressed his displeasure over constant review of the nation’s constitution.

He urged Nigerians to have a good conscience instead of agitating for constitution review.

The MagajiNda of llorin, Alhaji Saliu Mohammed, canvassed the creation of the state police and rejected the creation of additional states and local government councils.

He called for adequate funding of the existing ones.

However, the GaladimaNgeri of llorin, Umar Adelodun, advocated the creation of more states and local government councils.

NAN reports that at the public forum were many eminent sons and daughters of the emirate both at home and in the diaspora as well as residents of the constituency from all walks of life.

 


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