Judge blames clamour for restructuring on absence of federal system model

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16th chief Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture
16th chief Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture

A Judge of the Court Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu, on Wednesday said that continued clamour for Nigeria’s restructuring showed the absence of an ideal model of a federal system of government.

Ogakwu made the assertion at the 16th Late Chief  Gani Fawehinmi Annual Lecture/Symposium held in Lagos.

The event had the theme: “Federalism:  Whether Our Judiciary is under Threat”.

It was organised by the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.

The judge said: “Federalism, as practiced in Nigeria, has been argued to be an aberration, as power and resources are concentrated at the centre.”

He noted the 1999 Constitution provided for a federal system that was based on the separation of powers among the three arms of government.

“It is our collective responsibility to see that the true tenets of federalism are attained and practiced.

“I must hasten to say that I disagree with the theme of the discussion. The judiciary may be facing challenges arising from the system we operate.

“The challenges, however, ate not restricted to the judiciary but equally apply to sectors such as health, security, education and the area of provision of infrastructure.

“The challenges are mere hurdles which the judiciary will surmount as it did during the military era.”

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, said that Nigeria had played the game of restructuring wrongly.

“Why I said it is that we need to first decide what the political evolution of Nigeria is.

“Nigeria is not a liberal democracy, it might be difficult for those political elites to agree to restructure unless we find a diplomatic way to intervene,” Agbakoba said.

According to him, under the constitution of the country, a lot more can be done by the state governments.

He urged the state governments to exercise their powers in developing resources.

“Why has no governor been able to establish a power plant except Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos?

“Write letters to the 36 states governors and ask them why are they not using the powers giving to them by the constitution to develop their states,” the SAN told lawyers.

Mr Tayo Oyetibo, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said that disobedience of court orders by the executive arm constituted an attack on the judiciary.

Oyetibo spoke on: “Is the Judiciary under Siege by the Executive?”

The senior advocate said that the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers were critical to the success of any democracy.

He said that the alleged subversion of the constitution by the executive arm through the disobedience of court orders constituted an attack on the judiciary.

“Judges who exercise judicial powers to determine disputes between government and individuals, ought not to be subjected to reprisals for handing down decisions unfavourable to the executive”.

In his goodwill message, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, prayed God to comfort the family of the late Gani Fawehinmi.

The chief judge was represented by Justice Adedayo Odebanjo.

He said that the late legal icon was acknowledged as a foremost human rights activist who dedicated his life to the fight against human rights abuses and condemnation of bad government.

He urged the Nigeria Bar Association not to be silent on important national issues.

He advised lawyers not file frivolous cases in court thereby adding to the already congested dockets of the courts.

He also urged judges to uphold the rule of law at all times.

Femi Falana (SAN), who was the master of the ceremony, urged lawyers to go to court to challenge human rights abuses as the late Gani Fawehinmi did. (NAN)

– Jan. 16, 2020 @ 9:59 GMT |

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