Discordant tunes trail legality of 1999 Constitution

The two-day national public hearing on the review of 1999 Constitution ended yesterday, with various stakeholders expressing divergent views on the legality of the law book and desirability for a new one.

While representatives of the six south-south states under the umbrella of BRADEC United Peoples Assembly described the 1999 as illegal and a contraption not desirable by majority of Nigerians, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege said it is only a court of competent jurisdiction that can set aside the constitution as illegal.

Responding to BRADEC’s submission that making of a new constitution is possible through the elected representatives in the National Assembly, Omo-Agege advised the body to approach the court and stop the implementation of the constitution.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekjome, a member of BRADEC who made a personal presentation at the second day of the Senate public hearing, said the 1999 Constitution is an illegal document which should be jettisoned rather than decorating it with a series of amended clauses.

“No amount of amendment can make illegality, legal,” Ozekhome said.

He, however, called on the Senate Committee to adopt various recommendations of past consultative bodies and memoranda submitted during the zonal hearings in commencing the process for a new constitution.

Reacting to Omo-Agege’s submission on Thursday that the National Assembly lacks the powers to set the entire 1999 Constitution aside and birth a new document, the Senior Advocate said the “1999 Constitution was hurriedly compiled from the schedules of Decree 4 by the military.”

Ozekhome described the 1999 Constitution as “an illegitimate child,” arguing that no amount of amendments will give it legitimacy.

Similarly, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi, faulted the remarks by Omo-Agege that the Nigerian people cannot have a brand new constitution even when it is widely accepted that the 1999 Constitution is seriously flawed.




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