Renowned constitutional lawyer and elder statesman, Professor Ben Nwabueze, has taken a hard look at the 10-month-old Muhammadu Buhari presidency and passed a ver­dict of marginalisation against the South East.
According to Nwabueze, who spoke to The AUTHORITY, in President Buhari’s 31 strategic appointments, the South East was ex­cluded.
His words: “He appointed thir­ty-one appointments, none from the South East; is that what they call justice? In thirty-one strategic appointments in a constitu­tion that says that social order is founded in justice. What does justice mean and what does it re­quire?

Nwabueze also questioned Buhari’s fidelity to constitutional procedures that define democracy, pointing out that the constitution necessarily imposes certain limi­tations in power.
“The constitution imposes so many other limitations in power. Are those limitations being ob­served? The bill of right is there guaranteeing rights to every in­dividual and citizen. Are those rights being obeyed? That’s part of the essential character of de­mocracy, Nwabueze noted.
According to him: “The Con­stitution can fairly be described as consultative government; you have to consult with various agen­cies established by the constitu­tion. Is he doing that?”
With specific reference to the handcuffing of Chief Olisa Metuh, Nwabueze took exceptions to the inhuman treatment of citizens.

His words: “The constitu­tion outlaws inhuman treatment among so many rights that were with it. You see a citizen been handcuffed for corruption. Oli­sa Metuh was not accused of any­thing else but corruption.
“Is that enough to handcuff a citizen? The constitution prohib­its inhuman treatment. Handcuff­ing is accepted if a man committed murder and there’s evidence that he may try to escape. That may well be justification for handcuff­ing.
“That’s the only circumstance where you can arguably justi­fy such a treatment. I heard also that Nnamdi Kanu was hand­cuffed. What did he do? Declar­ing Biafra? Is that enough to hand­cuff him?
Alluding to President Buhari’s position that he will not treat those that gave him five percent votes the same way he will those that gave him 95 percent, Nwabueze stated such positions were flawed.
And yesterday in Lagos, the Nwabueze Centre for Studies in Constitutional Law and Related Subjects was formally inaugurated.
The event was held at the Ni­geria Institute for Internation­al Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island and was attended by retired Jus­tices Salisu Modibo Alfa Belgore, George Oguntade, Samson Odem­wingie Uwaifo, Chief Mike Oze­khome (SAN) among other legal luminaries.
Nwabueze, in his inaugural speech said that the centre was borne out of his passion for Con­stitutional Law.

Justice Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo, CON, (rtd) Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, deliver­ing a paper entitled: “Whether the Code of Conduct Tribunal is right in refusing to grant a request for stay of proceedings in a case be­fore it, and whether the presence of bias or likelihood of it and lack of impartiality does not vitiate the proceedings”.
In the paper, Uwaifo said that the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is not a court and there­fore has no right to exercise judi­cial powers, adding that there is a real likelihood of bias by the CCT which may deny the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki justice.

“They do not and are not meant to exercise judicial power which is exclusive for the courts. It is impossible under the constitu­tion to confer such functions upon anybody other than a court, nor can the difficulty be avoided by designating a body, which is not in its essential character a court, by the name, or by calling the func­tion by another name.”
On whether there is bias or likelihood of it in the case of Sara­ki before CCT, Uwaifo noted that it was possible the All Progres­sives Congress (APC) which did not back Saraki’s ambition as Sen­ate President has connection with what is playing out at the CCT.

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