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Published On: Tue, Aug 12th, 2014

Confab: Northern delegates slam new constitution

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President Goodluck Jonathan and Justice Legbo Kutigi

President Goodluck Jonathan and Justice Legbo Kutigi

  • Say it’s Jonathan’s 3rd term bid

By Patrick Andrew & Ochiaka Ugwu

Northern delegates to the National Conference have dissociated themselves from the “New Draft Constitution 2014”, submitted among other documents to the delegates when they resumed plenary last Monday, asserting that it is a calculated ploy by President Goodluck Jonathan to pursue a third term agenda.

The delegates, who expressed shock, surprise and disappointment at the sudden appearance of a “New Draft Constitution”, said it was obvious that the conference had been infiltrated by fifth-columnists whose goal is to subvert the democratic processes and stoke up political conflicts as well as plunge the country into avoidable violence.

Speaking after meeting for many hours in Abuja, Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and leader of the Northern Delegates Forum, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, said they were neither privy to, nor were they accessory to the emergence of the controversial “New Draft Constitution 2014.

“We, therefore, unequivocally disown it, and emphatically dissociate ourselves from it”, he said, and added that they opted to reject the document on moral and legal grounds.

He said since the conferees were not elected, they lack both legal and moral authority to draft a new constitution for the country noting that delegates were constituted to serve as an ad hoc advisory mechanism to the president and, therefore, “cannot legally arrogate to ourselves the far-reaching function of making a new constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Further, he said the powers to draft a new constitution belongs to the constituted Constituent Assembly” and added that the proposal for National Referendum to bring the new constitution into effect was illegal since there is no such constitutional provision in the substantive amended 1999 constitution.

The delegates subsequently called on all true democrats, people of other persuasions and institutions to reject this third term ploy. “If not arrested, the 3rd term agenda, as in the past (2005), is capable of plunging Nigeria into another circle of political chaos with potential of violence and anarchy.”

The delegates recalled that the new constitution is a calculated attempt by some people to take advantage of the Court of Appeal’s ruling in 2003 which enabled Governor Abubakar Audu to contest for a third term in spite of having two previous tenures on the ground that his first tenure – 1991- was under a different constitution.

The delegates argued that should the new constitution be adopted it would allow the incumbent executives, “who are statute-barred from contesting for third term at both the federal and state levels to run for offices again under the guise of running under a new constitution”.

Peoples Daily recalls that the proposed amendment submitted to the delegates was titled ‘A bill for an act to further alter the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) with the first, second and third alteration, and for related matters 2014′ was among three copies of the report of the conference that were handed over to the delegates on Monday when plenary resumed.

We equally recall that the leadership of the National Conference Secretariat had on Monday 30th June 2014, when the matter of smuggled in new draft constitution was mentioned, dismissed it as a baseless speculation declaring, “We know nothing about the paper in circulation. We are not aware of that… we have nothing to do with it. That matter should be closed.”

However, it seems the matter is far from being over as it is likely to generate no little tension today when the delegates resume for plenary to consider the draft reports of the recommendations which would be adopted and forwarded to the convener of the conference President Jonathan after they have been ratified.

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