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Nigeria needs new constitution not amendment, say experts – The Punch

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Some lawyers and a political analyst have faulted the ongoing process of constitution amendment at the National Assembly.
They said what Nigeria needed was a new constitution and not an amendment.
They spoke in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday.
The Senate had on Tuesday announced that zonal public hearings on the review of the 1999 Constitution would hold from May 26 to 27.

The statement explained that the public hearing would be held simultaneously in 12 state capitals in Nigeria, meaning that two public hearings would hold per geopolitical zone.
Reacting to the development, a public affairs analyst, Jide Ojo, in an interview with The PUNCH, regretted that Nigeria had been spending a lot of money on amending the 1999 Constitution when the country could simply get a new document.
Ojo said, “I feel we are spending too much restructuring this 1999 Constitution when we could have done a better job having a new one.

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“Every National Assembly since 1999 would always put in huge sums of money for constitutional amendment.
“If we succeed with this one, it would be the fifth time this particular constitution will be amended. So, why not have a new one?”
A human rights activist and former Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, said people must be allowed to enact their Constitution instead of frequent amendments.
He said, “It is still the same thing we have been saying that it is still a ‘patch patch’ method we are employing with our Constitution.
“If we agreed that this Constitution was not made by the people, no matter the kind of amendment you do, it still will not qualify as a people’s constitution.
“Maybe a time will come when we realise what we are doing and do the right thing by letting the people enact the Constitution for themselves.

Ubani also spoke on police reforms, one of the focal points for the amendment of the Constitution.

“Since all the state governors have now realised that they cannot get security in their states if they don’t have state police, there will be an amendment, but it must be stated that there must still be room for federal police to come in when there is a likelihood of abuse by state apparatus using the state police to harass their opponents or political enemies,” he said.
The lawyer also argued that each state should be allowed to have major control over whatever resources came from it.
He added, “The Constitution right now has so many things on the exclusive list for the Federal Government.
“We should try as much as possible to reduce the over-centralisation of powers. Let us allow other units, especially local governments, to have a say.”
An associate Professor and Head, Department of Public Law, Rivers State University, Aduche Wokocha, said each state should be allowed to handle security in its territory.
He said, “We must realise that the police are for security purposes not just for election and political moves.
“We keep forgetting that elections happen once every four years, while security is forever and we must be safe in between elections.

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“However, our current experience has left no one in doubt that each state should be able to handle security within their environments.”
Wokocha also made a case for a dual judicial system which would allow for operations at regional and national levels.
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