Group faults National Assembly on constitutional amendment

A group, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has accused the National Assembly of amending the constitution to favour themselves.

A statement by the group’s Executive Director, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said the lawmakers protected their interests, rather than upholding issues of national interest.

“For us, some of the seemingly well-meaning amendments, like the issue of local government autonomy were nothing, but smokescreens to mask the unpatriotic and dubious intention of the vast majority of the lawmakers,” he said.

The group urged Nigerians to be “curious to find out why the National Assembly was so fixated on altering the constitution to dubiously grant immunity to lawmakers, as shown in Bill No. 8, which proposed immunity for the legislature.”

The statement added that the immunity was to protect themselves against their crimes against the people who elected them.

Zikirullahi said the amendments failed to provide for a referendum, but preserved the unitary structure of the country’s federalism, as well as the political and fiscal expressions of that deformation.

According to the statement: “The amendment preserved the constitutional basis of the central contradictions and conflicts that had afflicted the country since independence.  These include problems of relations between the country’s ethno-religious groups, as well as those between genders.

“In a supposedly federal system, the amendments concentrated power and economic control in the hands of the Federal Government and reduced the federating states to administrative units. It over-regulated and constricted the democratic space by requiring that political parties must be national.”

The group faulted the lawmakers’ position on gender issues, by failing to support the 35 per cent affirmative action on women.

The statement added that the subjection of women did not address the concerns of ethno-religious minorities, children, senior citizens, or handicapped persons.

Zikirullahi said the amendments made no meaningful protection for the social and economic rights of Nigerians.

He added that all the contradictions that have often manifested in political crisis and violence in the country were not addressed.

He lamented the development, particularly as they are capable of consuming the country in violence.

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CHRICEDIbrahim Zikirullahi
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