By Igwe Hon. E.E.E. Obikwere
I congratulate you on your courageous efforts to embark on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution. There is urgent need to amend this constitution and rightly too you have started well. It is necessary for democracy and rural development to remove the Local Government Council Administration from State Governors. This will free our democracy from the strangle holds of the governors as well as stop governors from personalizing Local Government financial allocations.
2. There is urgent need to amend the land use Acts (Land Use Decree). This law which is supposed to be a sort of TRUSTEESHIP in which governors should act as Trustees was ill-conceived and has therefore been wantonly abused by the governors. It is unfortunate that governors have become the true land owners by sequestrating communal lands (wealth) from the original landowners who had invested their energy and labour to deforest virgin forests that eventually became the communal farmlands for a shifting cultivation system. In the case of Imo State, right from the on-set the governors have never considered the interest of native owners of land whenever they allocate lands. Had they understood that they hold in trust for the use of all-concerned citizens they would have been providing space for the original land-owners before allocating lands to whomsoever they fancied. For example in 1984, immediately Gen. Buhari’s military coup that ousted the civil administration, some civil servants in Imo State concerned with land allocation at that time started hawking some 400 plots of land at the Ugwu-orji area of Owerri capital territory. These lands were ostensibly allocated to fictitious names to the exclusion of indigenous land owners. Original community families by their custom have always lived a compact life using smaller space for their accommodation but our insensitive governors have always failed to provide land space to accommodate communal expansion for a growing population and for farming. FARMING has completely died in Imo State and this after – civil – war generation finds farming an alien culture. But we must eat food and food is based on local staples. Governors are comfortable allocating other people’s land to their exclusion and for building brothels. Now, there is FAMINE: and the very fertile agricultural land areas in Owerri, Ngor/Okpala, Ohaji/Egbema etc have been allocated to those who scramble for land in urban areas.
It is my advice that our constitution be amended to emphasize that priority attention be given for providing land space for the expansion of native population and for farming purposes before housing estates are established. People should build in their own home-lands so as to accelerate even development rather than concentrate on urban areas.
3. SHARIAH: It is my considered view and without sentiments that the SHARIAH laws provided in the Nigerian Constitution do not serve the interest of Nigeria as a nation known for its “UNITY IN DIVERSITY”. The provisions and application of this law breed injustice to others and sometimes very barbaric in meting out excessive punishment and pains to its victims. SHARIAH MUST GO WITH ITS MASTER-FEUDALISM! You may recall the accusation of blasphemy that caused the lynching of one Mrs. Agbahime in Kano and the death of a student in Zamfara State. In Kano, the State Attorney-General turned out a “nolle prosequi” plea, refusing to prosecute the murderers because they were not guilty; and in Zamfara the state did not order for the arrest of the killers because they were not guilty having acted according to law. The plain truth is that no offence was committed. There is no other Nigerian law other than the Shariah Laws that provide for public lynching of suspects even when falsely accused. Shariah promotes forced marriage even by abduction; so where is BOKO HARAM wrong in the Chibok issue? Shariah allows child marriage for infants of Nine to thirteen years who actually lack the mental capacity to enter into marital contract. Others may call it RAPE as we read what is happening in the Islamic state of Turkey.
A lot of human beings are, unnecessarily wasted through the help of Shariah Laws. All the Arab countries that operate Shariah Laws are constantly in a state of continued INSTABILITY and DESTABILISATION, whether it is EGYPT, LIBYA, TUNISIA, IRAQ, PAKISTAN, YEMEN, SYRIA OR AFGHANISTAN, By the killings they seem not to have value for human lives. If civilization started in the Middle-East there is no Arab nation that practices democracy, never. Unfortunately the Arabs look down on Africans as you can see uln year 2000, migrant workers from sub-saharan Africa had been attacked by Libyans in clear cases of Xenophobia. They included Nigerians, Ghanaians, Chadians, Nigeriens, Sudanese, etc. Some were killed and others brutalized. The Ghananian President, J.J. Rawlings personally flew into Tripoli and repatriated 250 of his nationals caught up in the violence. It was ironical because the savage attacks came at a time Gaddafi was preaching the gospel of morphing into massive country, with himself as the President. So how did he defend the insular attacks? uWe regret the skirmishes that have taken place between the brothers because these are hostile hands, which took advantage of the circumstances and fomented them”. Mr. Femi Adesina, now with President Buhari wrote this on the back page of Daily Sun, Friday, April 4, 2014.
In all these licentious murders authorized by Shariah the Islamic leaders had always expressed hypocritical sympathy as if the acts were inspired by them. Even as it is, the Shariah Laws are applied differently from different Islamic sects as their interpretations differ. The extremists like Boko Haram, Zaky Zakky and the like interprete and apply the Shariah Law as they deem fit while the orthodox custodians of the law are subtle and pretentious. In Pakistan, a few months ago, it was reported that a woman employee was framed for blasphemy and stoned to death because she refused to marry the son of her employer. There is no sanctity of human life. This is similar to what happened in about the 9th Century B.C. in Israel when Jezebel the wife of King Ahab had written a letter to some scoundrels to falsely accuse one Naboth, thus, “Naboth has cursed God and the king”. See 1 Kings 21 vs 8-10, the Holy Bible. This trumped up blasphemy charge caused the scoundrels to stone Naboth to death so that her husband, King Ahab would usurp late Naboth’s land. Israel was then a theocratic state like the Islamic States that apply Shariah. We are now some three thousand years away from those primitive times.
4. From since 1914 or earlie,r there have always been instigated religious riots in Northern Nigeria during which many Southern Nigerian Christians particularly the Igbos’ were killed and their properties looted. It has been estimated that well over 30 million Christian (mainly Igbo) lives have been lost in Northern Nigeria in this Nigeria project. This figure is comparable to the number of people Africa lost to slave trade. Northerners (Hausa/Fulani Muslims) freely move into any part of Nigeria but Christians cannot do so and return home alive. Those living in the North end up losing their lives, leaving widows and orphaned children in the wake. Nigeria must stop the ONE RACE nation pursuit targeted at eliminating other ethnic groups, via this Religious intolerance; it is Shariah that gives this situation the teeth and bite to operate. Please, Sirs, completely EXPUNGE Shariah or any religious laws from our constitution. God that has given human beings everything does not lack the power to decide for Himself.
Let God Himself decide about who does not worship Him rightly and not human beings as is the case today. If Nigeria is to continue existing as a nation of unity in diversity there is no alternative to expunging Shariah from the constitution so that Nigerians who live in one place are bound by the same law. Shariah is not a native of Nigeria being an imported alien culture that is inimical to African spirit. We must stop this life of hypocrisy, let the instigators of killings be rest assured that they are as guilty of murder as those they instigate for God is no respecter of persons. The True God will avenge their deeds.
IGWE, HON. E.E.E. OBIKWERE