Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze yesterday in Enugu made public the Igbo position on the proposed
national dialogue as articulated by Igbo Leaders of Thought which includes the right of zones to form the basis for the federating units and the right of self determination and the right to secede.
Nwabueze, who addressed a press conference in Enugu said to give room for the younger ones, he and Dr. Alex Ekwueme would not take part in the conference but assured that they would not abandon their people.
Said he: “We are not going to be delegates sitting in the hall exposed, taking all abuses, bombardments; but we will stand behind. Our role should be that of guidance.”
He stated that they would reach out to Igbo governors and other prominent Igbo sons to provide a meeting place in Abuja, where Igbo elders like him and Ekwueme would be meeting with Igbo delegates to the conference twice a week, to guide and educate them on the Igbo position as contained in the document.
On the summary of the contents of the Igbo position paper, Prof. Nwabueze said Ndigbo had proposed the inclusion of the right of secession or self determination in the new constitution; adoption of the regions as the basis of the federating units and the establishment of regional or state police to enable the governors or regional leaders enforce their authority and law.
He said the position paper reduced the items in the exclusive legislative list as currently contained in the 1999 Constitution, from 68 to 36, adding that the current constitution was abhorrent to true federalism where a commissioner of police had overriding power over a state governor and chief security officer of the state.
He said the right of self-determination was contained in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which he said was domesticated into the Nigerian Constitution by National Assembly enactment.
His words: “In this document, we are proposing the rights of the zones as the federating unit to self-determination, including the right to secession. The Yoruba have already accepted it, they are coming to the conference with this. It is part of the law of the country already because the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, says that all people shall have an unquestionable and inalienable rights to self-determination.
“It is part of the law of this country already because I know that we have already enacted a law; the National Assembly enacted a law incorporating the African Charter as part of domestic law of Nigeria. This is the only international treaty that has been incorporated as part of our domestic law.
“So, it is nothing new; all that we are now saying is that it should be elevated from being part of the ordinary law of the country into a right enshrined in the constitution, that’s all that we are saying now.”