At a time when Nigerians are clamouring for the change in the way the country is being governed, an eminent professor of International law, Professor Akin Oyebode, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, has declared that it is out of place for the National Assembly to rewrite the constitution.
Oyebode who was speaking on Thursday at the Law Week of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, said while the National Assembly can continue to amend laws, the job of rewriting a constitution belongs to that of a duly convened Constituent Assembly.
“As to the fear expressed in certain quarters regarding the word, ‘sovereign,’ let it be said loud and clear for the umpteenth time that nobody intends to rob our rulers of grandeur of ascribing the custody of the people’s sovereignty to their lordships.
All that is meant by that much abused word, ‘sovereign’ is that whatever decisions regarding the way forward for the country by those chosen in a blueprint should not be tampered with by any other power, more so after the people’s endorsement of same by way of national referendum.
“By all means, our legislators can continue to make laws for the peace, order and good government as currently mandated by the Decree 24, masquerading as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 but thus far and not more.
They can even amend that document as many times as they wish but it is neither their place nor function to write a new constitution for the country. That job belongs to a duly convened Constituent Assembly or whatever designation it is given in consonance with existing practice all over the world.”
Oyebode who was the lecturer at the event said Nigeria in the actual sense was practicing plutocracy, being government by the rich and for the rich, rather than actual democracy.
He described the 1979 and 1999 constitution as fraudulent, illegal and dysfunctional because they were imposed on Nigerians by the military regimes that held sway.