Agbakoba writes Saraki, calls for strengthening of national institutions

Former president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has called on the  National Assembly to ensure that it strengthens various national institutions, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Police Force, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commision (ICPC), Accountant- General, National Judicial Council (NJC)), Attorney- General, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others, that support democracy, in the light  of recent happenings in the country.

Agbakoba, however, said in the alternative, the National Assembly should consider repealing the  current constitution entirely and simultaneously  replace  it with a new document, a journey he said, had become so compelling now for the country to undertake.

The operatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), a few days ago, conducted a midnight raid on residences of eight judges, including two justices of the Supreme Court, arrested and detained them on allegation of corruption.

The human rights lawyer made the call in a letter addressed to the senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, even as he noted that Nigeria’s democracy remained fragile.

Other national institutions listed by Agbakoba include the National Human Rights Commission (NHC), the Judicature,  the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Public Defender and Code of Conduct Bureau.

In a letter, tagged, ‘Strengthen institutions that support democracy’ and dated October 16.

Agbakoba, while noting that Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution establishes some of these national institutions, lamented that they were only executive agencies, having no practical constitutional guarantees for independence and effective functioning.

He suggested that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Chapter 9 of the Constitution of South Africa by ensuring that Chapter 9 of the South African Constitution replace Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution.

“The National Assembly can do this by either exercising its powers under Section 9 by introducing a Fifth Alteration Bill, tagged: “Institutions consolidating democracy” or by exercising its powers under Section 4 (1) and 315 (1) by repealing the  current  Constitution entirely and simultaneously replacing  it with a new constitution.

“I had taken the view that the constitution is a living document and should be altered as situations arises but with recent happenings, I do not believe this approach is feasible in the context of our fragile democracy.

“I propose a new constitution for Nigeria. I enclose Professor Ben Nwabueze’s suggestion of how the National Assembly can make a new constitution for Nigeria. I believe it is compelling. Accept assurances of my regard.”