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CLO Replies Okupe, Says National CONFAB Treasonable

…Backs Governor Elechi’s View Point

Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

The Civil Liberties Organization, CLO, has aligned it self with Ebonyi state Governor, Martin Elechi ‘s position on the proposed national conference, describing it as an assault on Nigeria’s constitution.  

the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe

the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe

African Examiner reports that Gov. Elechi had last Friday, in his country home Ikwo, Ebonyi state, criticized the proposed Confab, saying it will amount to waste of funds.

CLO’s support for Elechi’s position on the issue was coming few hours after both the presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lashed out at the Governor over the anti-national conference statements credited to him.

In a press statement signed by the south east zonal coordinator of CLO Barrister Olu Omotayo, made available to African Examiner in Enugu on Sunday, the human Rights organization hailed Elechi for taking such “bold stand.”

In the statement, the organization insisted that the conference is illegal and treasonable.

The statement reads:

“The Civil Liberties Organisation South-East Zone salutes the courage and wisdom of Governor Martin Elechi, of Ebonyi State, being the first governor and leader in the Southeast to come out openly and condemn in an unequivocal term the proposed national conference.

“The respected Leader and Elder had stated last Friday that he will not participate in the national conference being planned by President Goodluck Jonathan. The governor dismissed the planned conference as ‘a big joke, waste of time, and a distraction’.

“The Federal government in its’ reaction described Governor Elechi’s comments as undemocratic, dictatorial and against the rights of citizens to freely participate in popular discussions. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe had stated that ‘the issue of participation of the states of the Federation in the national conference is beyond the approval of any states under the control of the PDP- led federal government’.

Okupe went further to state that ‘the national conference is a citizens’ civic responsibility and it is constitutional in the face of right of assembly for citizens’.

“We submit that the convocation of a national conference lacking any enabling law passed by the National Assembly is an assault on the constitution of Nigeria and is treason perse. The Constitution gives only the National Assembly the powers to legislate for the good governance of the country.  “Any other organ whatsoever lacks the powers or legality to determine what is good and the way forward for the country. The over 150 millions Nigerians gave the powers to legislate for the good governance of this country to their representatives in both chambers of the National Assembly”.

CLO further noted, “Suggestion or convocation of a national conference without the legal backing of the National Assembly is a way of looking for another way to governed this country outside the provisions of the constitution and is a treasonable offence.

“The Nigeria Constitution itself provides in Section 1(2), that “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. So the convocation of a national conference is not within the provisions and contemplation of the Constitution, unless the proponents are advocating for a revolution because advocating for what is not in the Constitution of the Federal Republic is calling for a revolution which is treason.

“In a Federal system if the executive attempts to take over or usurp the powers of the legislature then anarchy looms. If there is need for new laws or policies necessary for the good governance of the country, the executive should propose such as a bill to the National Assembly but not to attempt taking an extra constitutional path.

“On the issue raised by Dr. Doyin Okupe that ‘the issue of participation of the states of the Federation in the national conference is beyond the approval of any states under the control of the PDP- led federal government’, he erred because it is incumbent on the states of the federation irrespective of political affiliations to uphold the constitution and resist any attack by any tier of government on the constitution because the Constitution in its Section 1(1), states that ‘This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria’.

“Furthermore on the other issue raised by Okupe that ‘the national conference is a citizens’ civic responsibility and it is constitutional in the face of right of assembly for citizens’, it is submitted that all other rights and provisions of the constitution is subject to to the provision of Section 1(1) of the Constitution quoted above which provides for and re enforce the Supremacy of the Constitution of Nigeria over all persons and authorities, so any assembly of persons or group of persons to undermine the supremacy of the constitution in not civic but an unlawful assembly to commit an assault on the constitution which is treason.

“We ally with the position of Governor Elechi, commend his courage and hope that all our other leaders in the southeast will emulate his firmness, truthfulness and courage on national issues affecting the southeast and Nigeria in general”.

Governor Elechi was on Friday quoted as saying that “the National conference to me is a big joke, waste of time and a distraction to Goodluck Jonathan. I’m skeptical about it. It will not achieve anything.

“The constitution gives the National Assembly the power to makes laws and the referendum cannot over ride the deliberations of the National Assembly.

“The best was the colloquium by former President Obasanjo in 2005. There, all segments of national life talked and reached far-reaching decisions. I will still consult my people but if at the end they decided to participate, I will not stop anybody but I will distance myself and be an on-looker.”

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