Legal Experts Seek Referendum For Nat’l Conference Outcome

Epiphany-AzingeThe Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) has advocated a referendum for the resolutions of the ongoing National Conference in Abuja.

The Director-General of the institute, Professor Epiphany Azinge, said that subjecting the outcome of the National Conference to a referendum would deepen the nation’s democracy and increase people’s interest in governance.

Professor Azinge called for the enactment of a referendum act in order to fast track the use of referendum and plebiscite as a means of participatory democracy.

Speaking at a forum organised by the institute, where legal experts gathered to brainstorm on the legal aspects of referendum and plebiscite, the Director-General advised the Federal Government to engage more Nigerians in governance through referendum and plebiscite.

“Constitutionally or otherwise it would appear that only in one provision of the constitution and that is the provision dealing with the provision of states is the word referendum ever mentioned.

“But we are now at a crossroad as to how to ensure that referendum becomes part and parcel of our national life and if possible how to navigate the charted waters to know how and when we can invoke referendum either constitutionally, legislatively or administratively as the case may be”, he said.

Participants at the forum were, however, divided on the use of referendum as a form of participatory democracy.

While a lecturer at the University of Jos, Dr. Samuel Oguche, said that referendum was “a way of making people – the electorates – to be directly involved in the conduct of their own affairs as it has to do with governance”, a senior lecturer at the same university, Professor Nnamdi Aduba referred to it as a complicated process.

He explained: “There are still problems with referendum, especially on what matters can you easily subject to referendum.”

The Director of Research at the NIALS, Professor Clement Dakas, however, said: “Every single issue should be the subject of a referendum. What we need to do is to isolate fundamental national questions and subject them to referendum. That does not mean referendum does not have its challenges.”

The one day roundtable which examined the concept, process and procedure of referendum and the history of plebiscite and referendum in Nigeria, was expected to produce a working document that would make the nation’s democracy more participatory.

Slow Dispensation Of Justice Affects Nigeria’s Economy – Lawyer

Getting justice in Nigeria can take as long as 2 years or more and the economic implication of such delay is huge, as the presence of such anomaly could scare investors.

On Channels Television Law Weekly, the Director General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, stressed the need for the judiciary to tackle the challenge.

Professor Azinge said that the bane of the administration of justice in Nigeria was the fact that cases were not speedily adjudicated.

“If we can change that, it will go a long way in earning the judiciary a lot of recognition in Nigeria and internationally.

“People believe that because our judicial system is very slow, foreign investors are deterred from coming into Nigeria and that has economic implication,” he said.

The Judiciary in Nigeria made remarkable improvements in 2013, a development that Professor Azinge said was as a result of the efforts the leadership of the the Judicial Arm of Government was making to ensure that the anomalies were corrected.

“Based on empirical report, there is every reason to believe that there was a remarkable improvement in 2013.  I can score the judiciary 70 per cent in terms of their performance in 2013 as against 2012 and 2011.

“Public perception of the judiciary seemed to have improved considerably. Many can now identify the Nigerian Judiciary with integrity to a large extent, he said.

The professor in law said that a good number of lawyers were sanctioned for gross misconduct in 2013, an unusual incident.

“More judgements were written in 2013 as opposed the 2011 and 2012.

“We have started seeing speedy dispensation of justice at the Supreme Court and other courts, both on criminal issues and other matters.

“We moved into 2014 with a lot of hope and expectations that things will improve. We are moving very close to politics, that is the 2015 General election, and all the machinations and tricks in the book will be brought to bare,” he stated.

Professor Azinge pointed out that it would be a tempting period for the judiciary, as there might be some compromise in the process if things were not well managed.

“This is a trying period for the judiciary and we are urging them to remain focused and make sure that there are no compromises. If they do, we will gain international recognition and acceptability as the case may be,” Professor Azinge said.

Asked why there are incidents of delayed justice, he said that a pattern had not been established and that the prosecutors were trying to establish one.

“They are doing that fairly well.

“They are working on a pattern can only be predicated on rules that will be put in place for such to flourish.

“The terrorism case involving the Lebanese has been successfully tested that something can happen within so short a time.

“If we are able to replicate that with the help of judges it will go a long way,” he said.

The lawyer emphasised the need for the judiciary to develop the pattern of ensuring that in all cases, “things are handled with dispatch effectively and efficiently as the case may be”.

“It behoves the judges, prosecutor and to a large extent the defence.

“Once we get prosecution right together with the judges we can achieve what we want to achieve because the two can push the defence to a point where they can no longer sufficiently and successfully extent the scope of a defence,” he said in enthusiasm.

Election Litigations Hampers True Democracy In Nigeria

ProfessorAmos Utuama Deputy Governor of Delta State.The lack of true democracy in Nigeria is as a result of frequent litigation over elections, the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Professor Amos Utuama, has said.

Addressing a gathering of legal practitioners in Abuja on Tuesday, Professor Utuama said that elections in Nigeria were yet to be free and fair in accordance with the rule of law.

The Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Professor Epiphany Azinge, urged legal practitioners to stop encouraging unnecessary and distracting election litigations.

‘Nigeria’s Democracy and the Role of the Legal Profession,’ was the topic of discussion in the 2013 fellows lecture that had in attendance, jurists, legal practitioners, scholars and their families.

Emphasis was also laid on the need for legal practitioners to desist from encouraging ceaseless election litigation.

Nine persons were made fellows of the institute in recognition of their achievements in the bar.

The new fellows were tasked with expanding the frontiers of law in Nigeria to ensure that Nigerians would reap the dividends of democracy.

Legal Experts Support National Dialogue

Some legal experts have made a case for a constitution that will reflect the aspirations and realities of Nigerians.

At a lecture series held in honour of constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the experts insisted that the 1999 constitution suffers a legitimacy deficit with the history of being handed down by the military.

They noted that the proposed National Conference is an opportunity to ensure that the constitution has the input of Nigerians and that it is tailored to suit the Nigerian situation.

The guest lecturer, Director of Research, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) Professor Dakas Dakas advocated for a constitution that will reflect the aspiration of Nigerians rather than the one handed down from the military, claiming that Nigerians sincerely need to be carried along in the designing of a constitution that suits their realities.

Speaking to Channels Television, he further said “we need to make sure that we focus more on constitutionalism because that is the ethos that underpins and drives the constitution, and for us to do so we need to make sure that the Nigerian people are keyed into the process, otherwise they will begin to see the constitution as something alien they cannot relate with.”

The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies NIALS, Professor Epiphany Azinge, however advised that the elite need to desist from the selective observation of the rule of law which has become the case over time, making the constitution a dog that cannot bite.

The maiden edition of the Professor Ben Nwabuze Lecture Series brought together legal minds, and academics as well as the renowned constitutional lawyer himself, Professor Ben Nwabueze.

NIALS Organises National Law Summit For Centenary Celebrations

The Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) says a National Law Summit is being organised to proffer legal solutions to issues of insecurity and good governance ahead of Nigeria’s Centenary Celebrations and as part of efforts to address some of the challenges facing Nigeria as a nation.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, Director General of the Institute, Professor Epiphany Azinge says 100 eminent Nigerians have been chosen to brainstorm on issues of law and justice, global peace and security among others.

He stressed the need for legal experts to assist the federal government in promoting a socio-economic transformation of the nation as a means of ensuring a better society where Nigerians will continue to co-exist peacefully in spite of religious, political and ideological differences.

Institute on legal studies calls for caution with use of social media

The Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Professor Epiphany Azinge, has advised everyone that uses social media to be security conscious at all times in order not to endanger their lives and properties.

Speaking in Abuja at a one-day roundtable on social media and public security organised by the institute, Professor Azinge stressed the need for caution by persons who post misleading messages on the social media with the aim of disrupting public peace.

He also noted that there is a need to curtail the excesses of persons who use the social media to ferment trouble stressing that criminalizing the misuse of the social media will not solve the problem as there are issues of jurisdictional challenge.

The roundtable on social media and public security is part of efforts by the NIALS to draw attention to the evils being perpetrated through the use of the social media.