By Lloyd F. Ukwu, Esquire | Washington DC, USA | Sept. 16, 2017 – Nigeria must embrace restructuring now! If it resists, growing chaos and strife will ensue. The status quo is indefensible. The Nigerian Constitution—its birth certificate—is illegitimate. The document was unilaterally decreed by a military dictator with ulterior motives to entrench the military and concentrate power at the center. It’s an open secret that the Nigerian Constitution was an existing decree that was simply converted to a Constitution. It was never submitted to the Nigerian people for approval directly in a referendum or indirectly through representatives elected for that purpose. Yet the consent of the governed is the cornerstone of every legitimate political dispensation.
Nigeria’s 1960 birth from British colonialism was also illegitimate. It violated the decolonization mandate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) enshrined in paragraph 2 of the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples: “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The several distinct peoples of Nigeria were denied the right to self-determination. Britain handed Nigeria’s sovereignty to its political or economic favorites as if Nigerians were serfs to be disposed of by the lord of the manor.
It is thus no surprise that Nigeria’s Constitution has been denuded of separation of powers—a structural bill of rights to protect the Nigerian people from tyranny. The President and his minions in the Executive Branch possess all muscular authority, including a monopoly on the legalized use of force or violence and the power of the purse to keep state and local governments subservient. The Legislative and Judicial Branches of government are to the Executive as a minnow is to a whale. But the combination of executive, legislative, and judicial power in a single branch is the very definition of tyranny. And the people not only have a natural right—they have a duty—to repudiate a tyrannical government and to provide new guards for their future security and liberty.
Nigeria’s Constitution also makes a mockery of genuine federalism. Devolution of power from the center is urgent in a diverse country like Nigeria featuring multiple ethnicities, religions, and cultures to insure laws are responsive to popular sentiments, customs, and practices. All significant power is entrusted to the central government. States and local governments must beg for money. In politics he who has the gold makes the rules. States also lack control over police or security forces. They are powerless to protect ethnic, religious, or political minorities within their jurisdictions from persecution by national authorities or their myrmidons.
Nigeria’s Constitution is purportedly secular. Section 10 provides that, “The Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion.” The author elaborated: “By this section, Nigeria is declared to be a secular state and therefore cannot join any organization that has a religious connotation.” Yet Nigeria has joined the Organization of Islamic Countries; and, twelve States have adopted Sharia as their legal code while some states in the southern part of Nigeria have, at times, openly referred to themselves as Christian states. Religion has become constitutionally divisive rather than unifying. A constitutional adjustment is necessary.
The illegitimacy of Nigeria’s Constitution has spawned a dilapidated economy, deficient schools, environmental degradation, regional and religious prejudice, chronic government lawlessness, monumental corruption, and overwhelming popular sentiments favoring restructuring.
A Nigerian National Conference on the Political Future of Nigeria is the first step towards the salvation of the Nigerian people. Respected leaders from all of Nigeria’s diverse communities should come together in the United States away from the intimidating environment in Nigeria created by President Mohammadu Buhari’s truculent opposition to change. Ironically President Buhari promised Nigerians change during his campaign but it has become obvious that his understanding and definition change may not be what he had in mind during campaign. The primary goal of the Conference should be an agreement on a fair process for drafting a new Constitution ab initio for submission to the Nigerian people in a referendum. The drafters should be representative of Nigeria’s multifarious political factions. They should be selected in elections organized and conducted by the United Nations Electoral Unit as was done in Cambodia (1992-1993) and Timor-Leste (2001-2002).
Change is coming to Nigeria irrespective of Aso Rock. Or should I say that “change the change” is coming to Nigeria. The Nigerian people want the change to be peaceful, democratic and orderly. The purpose of the Conference is to honor that sentiment.
Lloyd F. Ukwu, Esquire, an international lawyer writes from Washington, D.C.,USA (202)-380-9748
Governor Imoke established an infrastructural standard for primary schools that is peculiar to the state: every primary school must have well designed classrooms (each, with the capacity to sit at least 35 pupils and equipped with modern desks), resource room, library, assembly hall for extracurricular activities, teachers’ room and a laboratory for basic sciences. The Imoke administration built 17 additional primary schools in hitherto inaccessible communities with no primary schools. This helped to increase primary school enrolment from 223, 200 in 2007 to 295,973 in 2015, a 32.47 per cent increase. In addition to the newly built schools, the government responded to this increase in enrolment in primary school with “a corresponding expansion in infrastructure through the Universal Basic Education (UBE) intervention”. Over 300 primary schools were completely renovated, and the number of classrooms increased from 6,113 to 9,689, and about 1, 245 new teachers recruited with the Federal Teachers Scheme.
Recently, there have been talks about Amaechi and the All Progressive Congress (APC) concluding plans to scuttle the swearing-in of the governor-elect, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Wike, on May 29, 2015 by obtaining a hastily arranged kangaroo injunctive relief against his inauguration as the next governor of Rivers State. Such a legal move would be frivolous to the extent of offending good conscience. In the United States of America, this legal strategy would not have been an option because it would fall flat on its face and may even attract some serious disciplinary actions.
The courts ought to exercise their powers to issue injunctions judiciously; and thus, issue them only when the necessity exists. Undoubtedly, Wike won the 2015 gubernatorial election in Rivers State very convincingly. Dakuku Peterside and his political godfather, Chibuike Amaechi were badly trounced in the election. Wike’s victory stemmed from votes from his supporters and protest votes against Governor Amaechi, and by extension, his political protégé, Peterside, the gubernatorial candidate for the APC. The people of River State were sick and tired of eight years of Amaechi’s arrogance of power, impunity, misuse and misapplication of public funds, political intolerance – just horrible governance. Amaechi and APC have threatened to take their disaffection with the election result to the election tribunal, which is a legitimate course of action for anyone with any grievance with the outcome of an election. But then, where lies the need for an injunction?
An injunction is usually issued only in cases where irreparable injury to the rights of an individual would result otherwise. It must be readily apparent to the court that an act has been performed, or is threatened, that will produce irreparable injury to the party seeking the injunction. An injury is considered irreparable when it cannot be adequately compensated by an award of damages. The injury that APC and Amaechi are referring to, if any, is not irreparable. There are legal remedies for electoral flaws. For example, the court can order a recount or removal from office via quo warranto. Injunction is an equitable remedy that can be issued only if legal remedies are unavailable. In other jurisdictions, such as, the United States, injunctive relief is not a remedy that is liberally granted, and, therefore, a court will always consider any hardship that the parties will sustain by the granting or refusal of an injunction.
In Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, he urged for a constitutional government with three separate branches, each with defined abilities to check the powers of the others. But in Nigeria I have noticed that this doctrine is flagrantly abused or ignored. Allowing an injunction, for example, to be issued against the police or Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), so that it cannot investigate or arrest an individual is a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers. There is no necessity because if arrested, the court can grant a bail if the arrested person does not constitute any danger to the community or there is no risk of flight.
What I have noticed here is that there is a lot of forum shopping. Otherwise, why would Amaechi and APC seek an injunction from a court sitting in Awka, Anambra state? There is virtually no nexus between Rivers state and Awka. This type of forum shopping and frivolous suits must be discouraged by punishing both the judges and the attorneys involved in such actions. I strongly believe that the APC’s and Amaechi’s efforts would not pass any legal muster. Therefore, it is legally impossible for them to stop the inauguration of the Governor-elect of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike. The worst case scenario is for Amaechi to refuse to set up his transition team to work out a smooth transition process.
Lloyd Ukwu, a lawyer, writes from Washington DC, USA
The majority of Nigerians, including those in the United States of America were appalled by the annulment of the June 12 election and the continued military rule under General Abacha. They were determined to force out the military and install the winner of the June 12 election, M.K.O. Abiola, as president. This resulted in the formation of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) by a number of prominent Nigerian politicians. Facing swift persecution inside Nigeria, NADECO Abroad was created.The NADECO Abroad was led by Chief Anthony Enahoro. Other overseas branches were created. Chief Ralph Obioha led the NADECO-USA, Chief Raph Uwechue, the NADECO-UK and retired General Cornelius Adebayo, NADECO-Canada. Washington DC, the capital of USA, was the hotbed of the NADECO-USA opposition to the Abacha government.
As the Counsel General of NADECO-USA, I incorporated the NADECO-USA and donated my law office in downtown (Central Business District) Washington, DC for five years as the headquarters of NADECO operations in Washington, DC. Chief Ralph Obioha spearheaded the NADECO-USA drive to oust the Abacha regime and establish democracy in Nigeria. Among other things, he addressed the US Congress, traveled extensively and gave series of speeches. He solicited and garnered recognition and help from different countries of the world. Other senior members of NADECO, including Bola Tinubu and John Oyegun lived in the Washington DC area and were also very active in the campaign to dislodge the Abacha government and install the winner of the June 12 election as president. The military junta of General Sani Abacha fought back. It unleashed a wave of terror on NADECO and other prodemocracy activists. In Nigeria, he hung playwright and environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa, and the Ogoni 9. Abacha was a brutal, murderous and barbaric dictator. But then Abacha was a product of Babangida’s scuttling of the June 12 elections. But then it was General Mohammadu Buhari’s overthrow of a democratically elected government of Alahji Shehu Shagari that set the stage for Babangidaism.
With the mysterious deaths of both Sani Abacha and Chief MKO Abiola, most of the members of oversea NADECO ended their exile; they returned home. It boggles the mind that anyone that fought, under the auspices of NADECO, against the Abacha military dictatorship can ever support Buhari for the presidency. After all, Buhari, in some respect, was a more ruthless dictator than Abacha. By whatever stretch of the imagination, Buhari is not qualified to lead a democratic Nigeria. His credentials and antecedents speak against him. His antecedence shows clearly that, for years, he subverted the ideals NADECO stood for and fought for: democracy, rule of law, fundamental human rights, freedom of worship, etc. In his desperation for power, he, in 1984, ousted President Shehu Shagari from power, thus, brutally truncating the nation’s nascent but thriving democracy.
Now, he wants to benefit from democracy; he wants to be a democratically elected president of Nigeria. The backing of Buhari’s presidential ambition by some former NADECO members is tantamount to a pat on the back for Buhari; he is being rewarded for shooting his way into power and committing atrocities; jailing, maiming and killing of the innocent. It sends a dangerous signal to the younger military officers: that it is okay to plot coups, trample the constitution, and kill, maim and jail Nigerian citizens, for you will be rewarded for it. So, if Abacha were alive today, and is running for president of Nigeria, the likes of Tinubu and Oyegun will have no compunction in sponsoring his presidency. After all, all Abacha did was to follow in the footsteps of Buhari: seize power, hold Nigerians in submission to the gun and kill and maim. Buhari in one respect is worse than Abacha – he overthrew a democratically elected government, Abacha did not. In other countries of the world, like the USA, people honor their war heroes. Lamentably, in Nigeria, we seemed poised to honor a coup plotters and brutal killer.
The support for Buhari by the likes of the Tinubus and Oyeguns is inconceivable. It is a betrayal of the NADECO cause. Tinubu and Oyegun are turncoats. They are making mockery of the post June 12 struggle for democracy and social justice that led to the establishment of democracy in Nigeria. They are desecrating the memory MKO Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Ken Saro Wiwa and many of those that died in the struggle against Abacha’s military tyranny and the institution of democracy in Nigeria. But then, it is obvious that the motivation for their dalliance with Buhari is avarice, grasping avarice. Tinubu has a personal stake in the Buhari’s presidency. He is scheming for the office of the Vice President. His protégé, Yemi Osinbajo, is Buhari’s running mate. In the 2011 presidential election, Tinubu did not ally with Buhari because the Buhari presidential campaign refused to meet his condition. Tinubu demanded that Buhari’s running mate, Tunde Bakari, write and sign a post-dated resignation letter, stating that if Buhari is elected president, he, the Vice President, will resign and relinquish the office of the Vice President to Tinubu. There are speculations that Tinubu, this time, is supporting Buhari because Osinbajo, a Tinubu acolyte, wrote and signed a post-dated resignation letter, stating that if elected the Vice President, he will, in three months, resign his post to make way for Tinubu.
Tinubu rode on the coattail of MKO Abiola, Kudirat Abiola, Ken Saro Wiwa into power. He paid little lip service to NADECO and dumped it for his selfish ends. Today, the same Tinubu is asking APC voters to disobey electoral laws with impunity by voting and remaining in the voting unit in direct contravention of the law. And his cheerleader SANs, Fashola and Osibanjo instead of calling him to other, are cheering him on. It is a coded language for violence. Tinubu is telling the youths to stay and unleash mayhem on fellow Nigerians. He wants to swim in their blood (again) to power.
Bola Tinubu has shamelessly betrayed the ideals that NADECO stood for by supporting the very persons that it was meant to fight. Buhari presidency has nothing to offer Nigerians. His political party, the APC talks about change. Yes, of course, they will bring about change but it can only be retrograde, destructive change. Evidently, Nigerians can see through him. No wonder, they have, in the past, rejected him three consecutive times. This time around, despite his deliberate and frantic attempt to recast himself as a democrat with respect for the rule of law and tenets of democracy, Nigerians will reject him again.
Lloyd Ukwu, an international lawyer, writes from Port Harcourt, Nigeria
By Lloyd Ukwu | Port- Harcourt | March 12, 2015 – The All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Mohammadu Buhari recently returned from a visit to London. He went to London for a medical treatment. The grueling presidential campaign had taken a toll on the ailing Septuagenarian and he desperately needed medical attention. His appearance, while in London, at the Chatham House was merely a smokescreen; it dissembled the object of the visit: medical treatment. Although, the APC presented his London visit as a “working visit”, he failed to attend most of the programs organized as part of his “working visit”. His Chatham House appearance allowed the APC an opportunity to sell the Buhari presidential candidacy to the world, and especially, the United Kingdom. At the Chatham House, he presented a paper titled “Prospects for Democratic Consolidation in Africa: Nigeria’s Transition”.
The Chatham House hype belied the outrageous cost of that public relations outing for the APC. It cost the APC about N5 billion. The money was for the payments for the speaking engagement, numerous foreign consultants, air tickets for the huge APC delegation (including a contingent of governors), the purchase and renting of vehicles, hotel bills and other logistics.
Unknown to many, is that the London visit also allowed Buhari the opportunity to source funds from a number of Arab donors. Despite repeated denial by General Muhammadu Buhari and the APC of being sponsored by Arab countries and businessmen, intelligent sources revealed that Mr. Buhari made contacts with at least two Saudi billionaires with links to the Al Qaeda terrorist group. He solicited and received their financial support for his presidential campaign.
That Buhari is seeking financial help from Arab billionaires is fathomable. There are indications that some of his erstwhile financial backers are now withholding their funding from his political quest. Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, an APC stalwart, recently made it clear that he cannot continue to fund the Buhari campaign because he needs money to pay state government employees. Another major financier of the Buhari campaign, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is disenchanted with the APC. Consequently, he is hobnobbing with the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). And once provided a soft landing, he will readily return to the PDP. He has since seized to be a financial supporter of the Buhari candidacy.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was one of the most important financiers of the APC presidential candidate. Notorious for his flippancy and reckless remarks, he repeatedly embarrassed the APC with his unguarded statements. In one of his brazen remarks, he said that Nigerian soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgency can justifiably disobey orders from their commanders. Legal experts considered his statement treasonable because Section 44 of the Criminal Code provides that: Any person who attempts to (a) seduce any member of the armed forces of Nigeria from his duty and allegiance; or (b) to incite any such persons to commit an act of mutiny is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life. The party tried to rein in his glibness. Piqued by his party’s remonstration, Amaechi is sulking, and in retaliation against the party, is holding back funds from the Buhari campaign.
With the once bloated coffers of the Buhari Presidential Campaign drying up, Buhari is in a desperate need of money. As such, he is reaching out to Arab donors for money. The sourcing of money by Buhari from Saudi businessmen with links to global terrorist groups is illegal. The Nigerian electoral act prohibits political candidates from raising foreign money and /or taking money from foreign donors. Yet, in his characteristic disdain for the constitution and national laws, Buhari went with cap in hand to London, begging money from fundamentalist Saudi Arabian billionaires with ties to both Al Qaeda and ISIS. It is important to note that Buhari, his Saudi sponsors and the leadership of both ISIS and Al Qaeda are all fundamentalist Sunni Moslems.
Buhari’s ties to terrorist group, Boko Haram (with its enduring ties to Al Qaeda) that has lately declared its affiliation with ISIS have never been in doubt. For an earlier proposed negotiation between the terrorist group and the Nigerian government in Saudi Arabia, the Boko Haram chose him as its representative. He once proposed a general amnesty, financial rewards, jobs and political appointments for Boko Haram terrorists. Before he started feigning the image of a national, unifying figure and trustworthy presidential candidate, he was critical of the Nigerian army for killing Boko Haram members and his supporters celebrated Boko Haram attack on Nigerian soldiers.
Lloyd Ukwu, a lawyer writes from Port Harcourt.
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