Shiite’s Proscription: Ozekhome Is Incorrect, Says West-Idahosa
Honourable Ehiogie West-Idahosa has disagreed with a Human Rights Lawyer’s view on the proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
West-Idahosa said there was nothing unconstitutional about the exercise of the power vested in a court of law by such court.
NAIJA CENTER NEWS had published yesterday that the Senior Advocate of Nigeria chief Mike Ozekhome described the proscription of the Shiite group as illegal and Immoral.
Ozekhome said: “The proscription by the government of the Shiites religious group is highly discriminatory, unconstitutional, as was the case of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
“Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution makes Nigeria a secular state. You cannot ban religion, a people’s belief.
“There is also freedom of thought, conscience and religion in Section 38, while sections 40 and 41 allow for freedom of movement and association.
“The Constitution is ruthlessly being shredded by an intolerant and overbearing civilian dictatorship.”
In his reaction, West-Idahosa said “With the greatest respect to the learned SAN, I do not agree with his views on this matter. The fundamental human rights of the shites under reference cannot be enjoyed to the detriment of the rest of our society. While conceding that we are in an over constitutionalized democracy, the basic duty to secure lives and property remains that of the executive. It is the duty of the Judiciary to vet the actions of other arms of Government.
“The appropriate court has thoroughly vetted the application of FGN to have the group proscribed together with the supporting affidavit and granted the reliefs sought. There is nothing unconstitutional or illegal about the exercise of the powers vested in a court of law by such court.
“According to Ran Hirschl, a professor from the university of Toronto, the world is witnessing a transition to juristocracy- the transfer of power from representative institutions to judiciaries. Nigeria is no exception in this regard. Section 6 of our constitution has laid down that foundation. It allows for active judicial review. The learned professor added that national high courts and tribunals have become increasingly important, even crucial, policy-making bodies.
“In the United States, which is the acknowledged flagship of constitutional democracy, there is hardly any moral, political, or public policy controversy in constitutionalism that does not sooner or later becomes a judicial one.
“The nature of democracy itself makes it imperative to draw up a set of procedural governing rules and decision- making processes which all stakeholders and political actors are required to accept as binding. The stability of democracy everywhere presupposes the existence of a Judiciary to serve as an impartial umpire in disputes concerning the nature of the rules and the compliance level with such rules by all stakeholders and policy actors. Above all, judicial review is a necessary component of viable democratic governance in a political system, whether federalist, confederationist or unitary in nature.
“It is therefore in this regard, that one can safely argue that a government policy supported by judicial review cannot by any stretch of imagination be regarded as unconstitutional and illegal. Until such judicial decisions arising from preceding judicial review are upturned by superior courts, they remain legal and constitutional. “