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Constitution Allows Workers To Participate In Politics – Falana

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Constitution Allows Workers To Participate In Politics - Falana

A human rights’ activist Femi Falana (SAN) has said that the nation’s constitution allows workers to participate in politics.

Falana was responding to the warning from the federal government to civil servants to stay off politics.

The lawyer relied on the position of the Supreme Court which tagged the keep-off order hare-brained.

Folashade Yemi-Esan, Nigeria’s Head of Service, in a memo dated May 5, 2022, ordered civil servants to abide by the provisions of the Public Service Rules (PSR) (2008 edition) on partisan politics.

She said her office had been inundated with requests for clarification on the apex court judgement.

She reached her stay-off conclusion on the strength of a legal opinion issued by Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation. Falana, however, faulted the conclusion and by extension the premise (Malami’s opinion).

READ ALSO: Emefiele Takes INEC, Others To Court Over Right To Contest Presidential Election Without Resigning

n a lengthy op-ed, Falana noted, “Like other citizens, workers are equally entitled, by virtue of section 39 of the Constitution, to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

“In Inspector-General of Police v All Nigeria Peoples Party (2008) 12(WRN 65), the Court of Appeal annulled the issuance of police permit for rallies and other public meetings on the grounds that it was a breach of the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of expression and association guaranteed by sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution.

“In line with the judgment, Section 83 of the Police Establishment Act 2020 has imposed a duty on the police to provide adequate security for participants in peaceful rallies and public meetings.”

He added, “In addition to constitutional provisions, the Government of Nigeria has ratified the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)5 both of 1966 as well the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) 1981 which guarantee freedom of association and freedom of expression.

“Indeed, the right of workers to associate and organise is enshrined in the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention 1948 (No. 87)6 and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention 1949 (No. 98) of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Section 254C(2) of the Constitution has conferred exclusive jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court to enforce provisions of all ILO Conventions that have been ratified by Nigeria.”

On the supporting precedent provided by the apex court, Falana stated, “In the case of Independent National Electoral Commission v Balarabe Musa & Ors (2003) 10 WRN 1 the Supreme Court faulted the civil service rules which restrict the participation of civil servants and other public servants in the politics of the county.

“In the leading judgment of the apex court, the Honourable Justice Ayoola JSC held that, ‘There is nothing reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health in prohibiting a member of the public service or civil service … from eligibility to be registered as a member of a political party. The submission that the restriction is a valid derogation from section 40 by virtue of section 45 (1)(a) of the Constitution was erroneous.’

“In his concurring judgment, Mr Justice Uwais, the then Chief Justice of Nigeria said that ‘The provisions of section 40 of the 1999 Constitution are clear. Their import is to allow ‘every person,’ including public office holders and civil servants, the freedom to assemble freely and associate with other persons to form or belong to any political party, or trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.’

“ The section has made no exception and there is no proviso therein limiting its application to civil servants or public officers.

“ Even though the civil service rules were not set aside as their legal validity was not challenged in the case, it has been held by the Court in several cases that sections 7, 66 (1); 107 (1) (f); 137 (1) (g); 142(2); 182 and 187(2) of the 1999 Constitution permit civil servants and other public officers who wish to contest elections to resign their positions 30 days to the date of elections for all the various positions of the president and vice president, governors and deputy governors, federal and state legislators as well as chairmen and councillors. See FAYEMI v. ONI & ORS (2019) LPELR-46623(CA); PPA v. PDP & ORS (2009) LPELR-4865;(CA); ADAMU V. TAKORI (2010) ALL FWLR (P. 540) 1387 (C.A)
“Notwithstanding that the Constitution is silent on the right of workers in the private sector to participate in politics it is submitted that they are equally entitled to contest elections without any legal entanglement.

READ ALSO: Why Jonathan Cannot Contest 2023 Presidential Election – Falana

“However, like civil servants, private sector workers who wish to contest elections are advised, subject to agreements reached with their employers, and/or the applicable conditions of service, to resign their positions or ask for leave of absence.

“It is, therefore, incumbent on workers in the private and public sectors to stop agonising about the problems confronting the country.

“This is the time to get organised with other pro-labour, radical and human rights forces and insist that a new Nigeria is possible,” he concluded.

Malami, in his legal opinion, said: “Neither the 1999 Constitution nor the Supreme Court has authorized civil servants to engage in partisan politics. The provisions of Rules 030422 and 030423 of the Public Service Rules (2008 Edition) were not nullified by the Supreme Court, hence, they remain in force and binding on all civil servants seeking to participate in nomination exercises or party primaries.”

 

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BREAKING: Peter Obi Resigns From PDP

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BREAKING: Peter Obi Resigns From PDP

Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi on Wednesday dumped the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Obi announced his resignation in a letter dated 20 May, addressed to the National Chairman of the party.

READ ALSO: Okupe Drops Presidential Bid For Peter Obi

In the letter seen by New Times, Obi gave reasons for his withdrawal from the presidential race.

 

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Security Forces’ll Deal With Killings In South-East, Others – Buhari

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Security Forces'll Deal With Killings In South-East, Others - Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that perpetrators of killings in the South-East and other parts of the country would be dealt with by security forces.

“I strongly condemn the wild, barbarous and wanton killings of innocent people in the South-East, as well as in other parts of Nigeria, Buhari wrote on his official Twitter handle.

“The perpetrators of these deeply distressing attacks should expect the toughest possible response from the security forces.”

The president was reacting to the recent gruesome killing of a mother – Fatima – and her four children in Anambra State.

READ ALSO: Open Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari

Several quarters have accused the proscribed secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as the mastermind of the gruesome killings.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna chapter, has also condemned the killing urging that IPOB terrorism needs to be stopped.

“This unfortunate act is getting out of hand. IPOB members are murderers, cowards and subhumans who oppress the innocent and kill children. FG should treat them the same way as Boko Haram,” CAN said.

Unknown assailants have continued to wreak havoc around the South-East since the incarceration of IPOB’s leader Nnamdi Kanu. The separatist group has repeatedly distanced itself from attacks on state assets and government functionaries.

Attacks in Anambra have become vicious in recent days, with gruesome killings of politicians and arson on police and other statement establishments on the upswing.

 

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AfAW Lauds Church Of Scotland For Acknowledging Harm Linked To Witchcraft Accusations

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AfAW Lauds Church Of Scotland For l Harm Linked To Witchcraft Accusations

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) has lauded the Church of Scotland for taking steps to acknowledge inked to Scotland`s historic witchcraft laws centuries ago. At its 2022 General Assembly, the church accepted the motion brought by Rev Prof Susan Hardman that regrets the terrible harm caused to alleged witches in Scotland.

“AfAW received this news of the Church of Scotland`s acknowledgment with much excitement and hope for the future of its campaign to end witch-hunting in Africa”, a statement by Dr Leo Igwe, a leader of the group in Nigeria, said.

It continued : “This development marks a significant step in the efforts by Witches of Scotland to win justice, legal pardon, apology, and national monument for thousands of people mostly women who were convicted of witchcraft and executed between 1563 and 1736. AfAW is delighted by the progress that the campaign by Witches of Scotland has made. On March 8, 2022, the International Women`s Day, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Surgeon, offered a formal apology to people accused of witchcraft in the 16th and 18th centuries.

READ ALSO: AfAW Condemns Gouging Out Kano Child’s Eye, Offers To Help Victim

Incidentally, this campaign has elicited criticisms from some segments of the Scottish population who think that the initiative is unnecessary because these are wrongs committed centuries ago. Some people say that such a campaign is an anachronism to the current generation of Scottish people. But these critics are greatly mistaken. They have forgotten that injustice is injustice no matter how long in the past it was committed. And it is never too late to say: ‘I am sorry.’ It is never too late to acknowledge mistakes and wrongdoings. It is never too late to remedy past injustices, especially when these injustices are still meted out to people in some parts of the world.

“More importantly, this campaign has so much contemporary relevance and resonance. Tens of thousands of people, including women, children, and elderly persons, still suffer harm linked to witchcraft accusations and prosecution in many African countries. And churches with a direct and indirect link to the Church of Scotland often perpetuate these abuses. Churches in Africa are part of the problem of witch-hunting in the region. Churchmen and women are modern-day witch hunters, witchcraft accusers and witch persecutors. This acknowledgment by the Church of Scotland sends a clear and powerful message to its counterparts and affiliates in Africa. This regret provides the moral leadership that has been missing in this campaign. This development in Scotland will help persuade and mobilize African churches to become part of the efforts to end abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs in the region.”

 

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