•As CJN Canvasses Amendment Of Outdated Laws
Deputy Senate President and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ovie Omo Agege has advised those canvassing for a brand new Constitution for the nation to perish the thought.
Senator Omo Agege gave the admonition, on Thursday, in his opening remarks at the national public hearing of the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution held in Abuja.
Certain eminent Nigerians and socio-cultural organisations have dismissed the existing Constitution as unworkable and advocated for a new document.
But Senator Omo Agege noted that the National Assembly was only vested with statutory powers to amend the Constitution and not write a new one for the nation.
He said: “Now, some of our compatriots have urged that rather than amending the Constitution, we should make a new Constitution altogether. We respect this opinion, and we believe it is the most desirable proposition.
“However, we are conducting this exercise in accordance with the extant legal order, which is the 1999 Constitution.
“Specifically, Section 9 of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to alter the provisions of the Constitution and prescribes the manner in which it is to be done. Unfortunately, it does not make a similar provision or provide a mechanism for replacing or re-writing an entirely new Constitution.
“To embark on any process without prior alteration of Section 9 of the Constitution to provide the mode through which an entirely new Constitution could be made, would amount to gross violation of our oath of allegiance to the Constitution.
“In other words, it will take a new Constitutional amendment to be able to give Nigerians a most desired new Constitution. It would be unconstitutional to do otherwise.”
The Deputy Senate President who urged Nigerians to use the opportunity provided by the ongoing exercise to ventilate their views assured that no genuine submissions from any individual or group would be discountenanced.
“As we work towards an inclusive amendment process underpinned by the public good, free from manipulations by self-interested or partisan actors and not dominated by destructive or short-term motives, I encourage you all to make your inputs with candour and guided very importantly by national interest.
We are ready to listen closely to every view and reflect on every proposal and give due consideration to every contribution.”
In his goodwill message, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, represented by Justice Ejembi Eko of the Supreme Court demanded the review of certain laws.
The CJN who lamented that justices of the apex court are overwhelmed with cases specifically asked the lawmakers to take cognisance of Paragraph 10. 1 of the National Judicial Policy of the National Judicial Council (NJC) which states: “Outdated laws should be amended to reflect the present-day reality in Nigeria and enhance the Administration of Justice.”
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