THE ongoing public hearing on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution continued across the country on Thursday with a warning by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to the Senate to avoid surreptitious moves by some groups to introduce Sharia law to the South-West region through the on-going constitution review.
The President of PFN, Bishop Wale Oke, said in a statement issued by his Media Office on Thursday that the move was capable of adding to the numerous problems facing the country.
He urged the Senate not to succumb to such agitation which he said was capable of further plunging the country into major religious crisis.
He said, “The problems confronting our nation are enormous than wanting to create more. Sharia law is alien to our culture of religious existence in the South-West. As such, nobody should through any subterfuge, bring it in to cause crisis.”
S’South demands power devolution, state police
In Rivers State, the South-South geopolitical zone demanded devolution of power, resource control and creation of additional states in the area.
The hearing organised for Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Amendment of the Constitution, chaired by Senator George Sekibo, had many stakeholders from various ethnic nationalities in attendance.
The host, Nyesom Wike, who declared the hearing open, said there was urgent need for the amendment to produce a people’s constitution that would guarantee devolution of powers, fiscal federalism, creation of state police, as well as strengthening of the electoral system.
Wike, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo-Harry, said the amendment must allow the states to create and sustain local government councils and ensure reduction of the cost of governance at both federal and state levels.
“Nigerians need a constitution that will give them a true sense of belonging, secure and advance their wellbeing and enable their children to aspire to actualise their potential for any office without discrimination,” he said.
On its part, the Akwa Ibom State Government said the challenges plaguing the country was deeply rooted in the ground norm that held various parts of the country together.
Represented by the Director of Litigation, Bassey Ekanem, he said the Federal Government was completely overburdened, adding that the state had listed about 25 matters in the exclusive list that should be transferred to the concurrent list.
Earlier in his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who was represented by Senator George Sekibo, representing Rivers East, disclosed that zonal public hearing on the 1999 Constitution review adopted the bottom to top approach in order to entertain the views of stakeholders at the zonal level.
Meanwhile, the National Vice-President, PFN, Apostle Zilly Aggrey, said the country needed a brand new constitution, even as he expressed fears that the ongoing selective amendment might end in futility.
Aggrey stated, “The PFN is firmly of the view that the review process by amending a segment of the constriction may just be another exercise in futility that cannot meet the expectations of the people.”
S’West seeks fiscal federalism
Also, the Lagos zonal constitution hearing entered Day Two on Thursday with stakeholders reiterating calls for a total review of the constitution to reflect fiscal federalism; implementation of the Child Rights Act and Disability Act in states, local government autonomy, judicial autonomy and creation of state police.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Wole Olanipekun, represented by his son, advocated that judicial outcome be respected and adhered to so that the common man could feel protected and their rights protected.
According to him, the Electoral Act should be amended to allow governorship election cases to terminate at the Supreme Court.
Rights activist, Femi Falana, made a large case for the poor and vulnerable, insisting that it was important to give secession agitators the confidence of peace and inclusion if they must remain.
The lawyer also advocated that the Child Rights Act enacted in 2003, and the Disability Act, be domesticated and implemented in states if the constitution review must make meaning to the common man.
Ex-CP declares state police anti-Igbo
There was, however, a mild drama at the Enugu Centre as Ibezimako Aghanya, a retired Commissioner of Police, declared that creation of state police would not be in Igbo interest.
The former Kogi State police commissioner said the Igbo should only support state police when state of origin was removed and replaced with state of residence, adding that “otherwise if state police is created, Igbo will suffer.
Aghanya said, “So what I am saying, if actually we want to create a state police let us first remove state of origin in our constitution and put state of residence. With it an Igbo boy born in Lagos can join Lagos police, an Igbo boy born in Kano can join Kano police and an Igbo boy born in Sokoto can join Sokoto police.”
Southern Borno alleges animals, humans drink from same source
However, the people of Southern Borno in Borno State have lamented that the zone has been marginalised for a very long time, hence their demand for the creation of a state for the zone.
They lamented that despite their contributions to the development of the state, the region had been left to suffer with their people drinking water from the same river with their animals.
They stated these in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of their presentation on Thursday at the Zonal Senate Public Hearing on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution held in Bauchi on why they are agitating for Savannah State.
Captain Ibrahim Mshelia of the Southern Borno Global Initiative lamented that their children were learning under leaking classrooms while some studied mathematics on bare ground using their fingers.
He said, “Some people have no drinking water; they drink water with animals. The same river that feeds them water for everything is the river that they feed their animals with. But in Maiduguri, there are taps, our children are still sitting on stones, inside the buildings; you can see the sun, and when it is raining, they go under trees. They are sitting on the stone.”