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NBA hails N/Assembly on judiciary, local govt autonomy

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By Chukwudum Ebele

The Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Idemili branch, Pere Oseme has described the proposal by the national assembly to ensure autonomy for local governments and the judiciary as long overdue and a step in the right direction.

Oseme who spoke to newsmen in his law chambers at Nkpor, near Onitsha, said financial autonomy is very crucial and a catalyst for the third tier and the judiciary to become truly independent.

According to Oseme, “we should start asking questions about how our money is being spent and such questions should form part of our oversight functions in a democratic setting as we are”.

“Democracy is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Government and politics is for everybody. Government should be asked questions on how they spend our money because the money does not belong to government alone. It belongs to both the government and the governed”.

On COVID-19 pandemic, Oseme declared: “Covid-19 is not a scam but we may have some skirmishes associated with it. Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC, and the World Health Organization, WHO, have told us what to do – maintain good personal hygiene, social distance, among others. Federal and state governments should give out more palliatives because the one given out so far is quite inadequate.

“The policemen cashed in on the curfew and enforcement of Covid-19 directives to harass and extort the vulnerable ones. I call on them to respect the fundamental rights and maintain the rule of law. The court is not working in isolation and the police cells are becoming jam-packed,” said Oseme.

Moreover, the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Idemili branch and member representing Idemili branch of NBA at the National Executive Council, NEC of NBA, Barr. Samuel Chukwukelu noted that the federal government had not done enough justice to the June 12 saga by just declaring it a public holiday.

He said government should have gone further to dig into the circumstances surrounding the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election which was adjudged as the best election so far held in the country, in terms of transparency, free and fair conduct of the election believed to have been won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola, business tycoon cum politician.

Reacting to the declaration of June 12 a public holiday and a democracy day in Nigeria, by the presidency, Chukwukelu suggested that based on official complaints regarding the annulment of June 12, government should have set up a panel of inquiry which to look into the complaints surrounding the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election and come up with a report.

According to Chukwukelu, “time does not run against the state and if government believes that what transpired during the June 12 debacle was an offence, President Muhammadu Buhari ought to set up a panel of inquiry to investigate the circumstances behind the annulment because it is not enough to just say June 12 is a democracy day without digging further into it”.

“Government should have set up an inquiry and if any indictment occurs, government will now prosecute the offenders. We have not learnt anything from June 12 yet. Buhari made a political pronouncement because the actual day of democracy is May 29. Our democracy is still a game of survival of the fittest. It is not yet government of the people by the people for the people”.

“Real democracy is when the opinion of the masses is respected, no matter the level of intelligence of our president, at a particular point in time. A situation where impunity thrives does not augur well for the advancement of democracy”.

“As the president, his motive cannot be a yardstick for determination. What matters is the position of the law. Motive is irrelevant”, said Chukwukelu.

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