One million amendments can’t cure weaknesses of 1999 constitution– Mike Ozekhome

Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says “one
million amendments” cannot cure the weakness of the 1999 constitution (as


Ozekhome spoke on Monday during a national constitutional
dialogue in honour of Ben Nwabueze, pioneer secretary-general of Ohanaeze
Ndigbo, which took place in Lagos.


Nwabueze died in Anambra state on October 28, 2023 at the
age of 92.


The dialogue titled: ‘Lawful Procedures For Actualising A
People’s Constitution for Nigeria’, was organised by The Patriots, a
pan-Nigerian group of eminent national leaders of thoughts.


In February, the senate set up a 45-member committee to
review and amend the country’s constitution.


Also, the house of representatives inaugurated a 43-member
constitution review committee.


In his keynote address, Ozekhome argued that a
“fundamentally flawed” document like the 1999 constitution cannot be amended.



He averred that the current constitution was handed over to
Nigerians by military leaders and that a new constitution should be created
through a referendum.


“But will their (national assembly) work amount to what we
are looking for? Is it just the amendment of the constitution that is our
problem? Can you amend a bad document? Can you amend a fundamentally flawed
document?” he asked.


“My humble answer is that you cannot. One million
amendments, multiple by one million amendments of the present fundamentally
flawed constitution, cannot cure the original sin.


“What is that original sin? It was imposed on you and I
militarily by a military junta led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar and 28
members of the provisional ruling council.


 “It was never
subjected to the referendum of the people. Guess what? The present constitution
was attached as a mere schedule to decree number 24 of 1999.


“So the constitution you are using is a mere schedule
attached to a decree. How can you amend it? How do you cleanse it? Nigeria must
own their own constitution through a popular referendum of the people.”


He added that a new constitution will make provisions for
the creation of state police, stating that the argument for abuse of state
police is not tenable.


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