As Nigeria marks her democracy day celebration, Ikechukwu Maximus Ugwuoke frontline candidate for National Welfare Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has identified Section 6 (6) (c) of the country’s constitution as the greatest enemy to the country’s democracy. Ugwuoke who is also doubles as  alternate chairman of NBA Enugu Human Rights committee and the  Enugu State support Lawyer for Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France (Lawyers Without Borders)  made this observation  during a radio talk show in Enugu on Sunday.

According to Ugwuoke ,”The values of ideal  democracy are imbedded in the principles of state policy contained in  chapter 2 of our constitution which is the finest provisions in our constitution. 

“The said  Chapter 2 is made up of 12 sections spanning from sections13 to 24 which contain the political, economic, social, cultural and developmental rights of the citizens.

“Beautiful as those provisions appear, Section 6 (6) (c) of same Constitution made those provisions unenforceable and non justiciable. 

“In this wise the Constitution  appears  like the Shakespeare’s description of alcohol as a substance that ‘initiates the spirit and  takes away the performance ‘.
 
“The fundamental Human Rights provisions in chapter 4 of the Constitution which are usually referred to as the first generation rights can only find expression in chapter 2 of the Constitution which contains the second generation right or socioeconomic rights  to make any meaningful impact on the lives of our citizens.

“The  non-justiciability  of  the said  chapter 2 of the Constitution  by virtue of section 6 (6) (c) of the same constitution implies that citizens cannot obtain redress from the courts if denied their socioeconomic , developmental and other rights provided for in the said  chapter 2 of the constitution.

“It is therefore a formidable impediment to socioeconomic development.

“The  non-justiciability of Chapter 2 of the Constitution may have been the reason for  lack of development and non-accountability by the Executive and Legislative arms of government, without any hope of a successful judicial challenge.

 “The result of this dichotomy is the failed state of Nigerian  nascent  democracy to the point that as the  country celebrates her democracy day, one really wonders if there is any cause to celebrate democracy in Nigeria.

“Our inability to hold our leader accountable for socioeconomic right has made our democracy a hybrid one which is far from democracy in the real sense of democracy. Today the political rights of the common citizens to vie for elections has been mortgages to the rich  by the hike in the cost of nomination forms by political  Parties and no one holds the leaders  accountable for this.

“])The right to education of a common Nigerian has been circumscribed by our leaders who use our stolen wealth to send their children to acquire  world class education abroad while  closing  their eyes to the incessant  Industrial action  that has crippled our educational system. 

“And no one can hold our leaders  accountable for this. Our democracy is one that assures the youths that  they are  leaders of tomorrow and yet make this assurance  a mirage when the tomorrow comes.  

“The right to health of a common Nigeria has been mortgaged to the leaders who left the health system in  Nigeria in comatose while they travel  overseas for their medical treatment. And  no one can hold them accountable.
 
“Our democracy is one  where basic amenities are given to the citizens as a privilege and not as their right by our leaders and no one holds them accountable for this. We can go on and on.

 “Research shows that some other African countries and India now have provisions to allow Courts to adjudicate on socioeconomic rights relying on the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which should be applicable in Nigeria.

“In spite of this some judges in the High Courts have continued to hide under section 6 (6) (c) and some other flimsy reasons like locus standi to dismiss  public interest cases filed to secure the enforcement of socio-economic rights of disadvantaged citizens or groups.

“It is recommended that Nigeria repositions to correct this aberration and allow for justiciability of this chapter 2 of the constitution by either amending or expunging  section 6 (6) (c) of the Constitution in order to facilitate socioeconomic development. 

“It is only then that the court which is the last hope of the common man would stop to hide under the unfortunate section of the Constitution and allow the enforceability of the chapter 2 of the Constitution to hold our leaders accountable. 

“Until this is done the said section shall continue to be the greatest clog  in attainment of ideal  democracy in Nigeria.”

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