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Femi Gbajabiamila

Lawmakers reject bill to empower Nigerians to sue the government for not providing basic welfare

The House of Representatives has rejected a bill seeking to make the provision of basic welfare compulsory. The bill, sponsored by Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), sought to amend section 6 of the 1999 Constitution by allowing the judiciary to entertain cases on the provision of basic welfare as contained in sections 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21.

The existing section 6(6c) provides that “the judicial powers vested under the foregoing provisions of this section shall not, except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act or omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity or otherwise with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution.”

In his lead debate, Mr. Ogun argued that section six already ousted the judiciary from inquiring into compliance with chapter two by the government. Thus, the bill by Mr. Sergius sought to amend section 6(6c) by providing the judiciary the powers to entertain cases on the failure of government to provide shelter, free education, and others as provided in chapter two of the Constitution.

He noted that “the amendment when passed into law will enable the courts of law in Nigeria to hear and determine questions as to whether the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy are being adhered to or otherwise.”

Speaking against the bill, the Chief Whip, Muhammed Monguno (APC, Borno), said the bill will be difficult to implement. He noted that it will bring chaos and anarchy if allowed to pass. He said no state can implement chapter two of the constitution.

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