15 December 2012

Nigeria: NBA Seeks Amendmentof Federal Character Commission Act

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday urged the National Assembly to urgently amend the Federal Character Commission Act which barred married women from claiming the state of origin of their spouses.

Paragraph 2 of Part II of the Federal Character Commission (Establishment) Act Subsidiary Legislation states that "A married woman shall continue to lay claim to her state of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character Formulae at the national level."

The application of the provision of the Act by the Chief Justice of Nigeria [CJN], Justice Aloma Mukhtar, made Justice IfeomaJombo-Ofor not to be sworn-in alongside other 11 Justices of the Court of Appeal (JCAs).

But the development stirred up public outcry with the Senate directing the CJN to swear her in as a justice of the appellate court.

At the valedictory session of the Supreme Court in honour of the former Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC), late Justice Kayode Eso, President of the NBA, Chief Okey Wali (SAN), described the provision of the Act as against equity. He said "It is against good conscience, it is against natural justice, to expect a woman who has been married for decades to get national appointment from her state of birth, called her state of origin, by this Act.

Accordingly, he called on the National Assembly to amend the Act without further delay.

The NBA further called on the Attorney-General of the Federation AGF, Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to take the necessary step in to ensuring the investigation of all allegations of extra-judicial killings and torture levelled against security agencies, and ensure prosecution of culprits. "Our country must at all times be a country built on rule of law and due process."

It also called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of pending criminal justice bills at the National Assembly, particularly the amendment to the Terrorism Act.

In her address at the session, the CJN, Justice Aloma Mukhtar described the late jurist as a perfect and very principled gentleman, a legal icon of international repute whose legal and judicial sojourn on earth had left an enduring footprint in the Nigerian judiciary.

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