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Constitutional Amendment: HURIWA slams NASS over removal of state police, VAT control by state

Says it is a disservice to Nigeria


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Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Monday, knocked the 9th National Assembly over 68 amendments proposed by the Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, urged the coalition of Civil Society Organisations in the country to mount pressure on the 9th National Assembly to ensure that unpatriotic provisions are not included in the constitution as members of the National Assembly are billed to vote on the recommendations on Tuesday and Wednesday after which the proposal would be sent to the states for concurrence.

The group is particularly appalled that the Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila-led National Assembly did not include state policing and restructuring in the amendments to the military-imposed fraudulent constitution, despite the clamour for resource control and state police by the Southern Governors’ Forum and the Southern caucus of the federal lawmakers.

HURIWA warned against self-serving and unpatriotic provisions such as the immunity for principal officers and judicial officers and life pension for principal officers of the National Assembly.

“These provisions must be expunged from the proposed amendments because they are not progressive provisions and they will create crisis of legitimacy for the amended constitution which may be assumed to be a mere smokescreen to cover up for the presumed thieving political office holders because only the guilty are afraid,” HURIWA’s Onwubiko said in the statement.

The group also expressed dissatisfaction that the gains brought by the Federal High Court judgment giving powers to the states to collect Value Added Tax, now risk being reversed as the National Assembly will vote on whether VAT should remain on the concurrent legislative list or be moved to the exclusive list.

Onwubiko  added, “The National Assembly should instead expunge and delete section 308(1) of the extant constitution which gives qualified immunity from criminal prosecution for governors, deputy governors, President and his vice. That section makes it believable that some persons are sacred cows and therefore are above the law which defeats the imperative essence of law which says that all citizens are equal before the law.

“The National Assembly should include privisions to allow for state police given that the current policing structure is unworkable and ineffective and is a mere ‘boys brigade’ dominated by NorThern Muslims. The policing institution in Nigeria needs urgent comprehensive constititutional reforms to secure the nation from a multidimensional platforms like state and federal police just like the United States of America.

“Independent candidacy is a noble provision that should be allowed and the provision compelling office holders elected on their party tickets but defect after being sworn in to lose that office because this is political prostitution.

“The ongoing constitution review should be thorough and should perhaps be the last of the Constitution amendments for a long time to come so Nigeria conserves resources being frittered doing endless constitutional alterations which costs taxpayers over N1 billion each session of the National Assembly.”

During his campaign as the flagbearer of the All Progressives Congress in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to restructure the country along the line of regional autonomy.

The party had also included the issue in its Constitution to convince Nigerians of its seriousness about the issue. Specifically, Article 7(ii) of the April 2014 APC Constitution (as amended), said its aims and objectives was “to promote true federalism in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The party then set up the Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led 23-member committee on true federalism, which submitted its report on January 14, 2018.

But four years after its submission of the report, the Buhari administration has yet to act on the recommendations of the committee on true federalism.

A founding member of APC and ex-Interim National Chairman of the ruling party, Chief Bisi Akande, in an attempt to defend the unwillingness of the Buhari regime to pursue restructuring, in his recently released book, ‘My Participations’, flatly denied that the President and the APC promised to do so as part of campaign promises. HURIWA said denying restructuring is tantamount to postponing the doomsday scenario just as the Rights group said the only way to have a nation called Nigeria in another fifty years is to restructure Nigeria so every citizen must have a sense of belonging because currently, the Moslem Northerners have this holier-than-thou fantasy that ruling Nigeria is their birth right.

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