Foremost human right activist and lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has directed that former president Olusegun Obasanjo be held responsible for loopholes in the constitution.
Speaking in Lagos, last week, during the launch of the minority report written by Professor Olusegun Osoba and Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman, Mr. Femi Falana, said that the lacuna in the 1979 and 1999 constitutions would have been removed long ago, if Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976 had accepted and implemented the Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria written by Osoba and Usman.
He said that the controversy that surrounds the birthplace of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and what qualifies someone to be a citizen of Nigeria were clearly resolved in the Minority Report. Falana said that unknown to the youths of this generation, the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ campaign was initially championed by Osoba and late Usman, 43 years ago. He said: ‘’Unknown to the Not Too Young to Run campaigners (who sometimes make a fetish of age in politics), Osoba and Usman had recommended in Section 145 of their own Draft Constitution way back in 1976 the minimum age of 30 as part of the qualifications to contest for the office of president or governor.
”Similarly, the constitutional immunity for the president and governors and their respective deputies was hotly contested by Osoba and Usman during the making of the 1979 Constitution. ”According to them, the immunity provisions contradict violently the fundamental principle of the equality of all citizens before the law and is an unwarranted attempt to shield these high officials of the state from the full rigours of the law as would apply to the other citizens of Nigeria in similar situations of misconduct or improper conduct. ”Other similarly remarkable provisions encapsulated in the Draft, but were regrettably rejected by the Obasanjo regime, include those on accountability by those in power; the purpose and management of political parties as well as the appointment of a prime minister by the elected president for the purpose of diffusing power. ”As Osoba and Usman rightly put it, the 1979 Constitution is a deliberate effort at mystification for the selfish interests of the bourgeoisie. The constitution is verbose. It is laden with technical loopholes. It is unwieldy with some contradictory provisions. As a matter fact, the pull for the Chapter II of the 1979 Constitution, which is also incorporated in the 1999 Constitution, was actually the Minority Report of Osoba and Usman that we are celebrating today.’’