In this Opening Address at the recent “Town Hall Meeting,” Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC), CHIEF JOE-KYARI GADZAMA SAN says the committee has successfully intervened in over 15 cases involving NBA members. He however notes that all hands must be on deck in the task of bridging the trust gap between lawyers and security operatives



Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, DiplCArb, FNICArb, FCIArb, C.Arb
(Of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister/Life Bencher/Certified Mediator/Regulatory Consultant)
Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association – Security Agencies Relations Committee
Sardauna of Uba, Okwulora of Ukpo and Bobajiro of Akure Kingdom,
Founding Principal Partner of J-K Gadzama LLP

ON APRIL 5, 2022.


I once read these golden words from Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”. Mr. Olumide Akpata has breathed life into these words as I know them. He started. He is ahead. As you may all recall, the Nigerian Bar Association-Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC) was constituted at the National Executive Council meeting held on Thursday, December 16, 2021 in Abeokuta, Ogun State, and inaugurated by the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, on Friday, January 7, 2022, at the NBA National Secretariat. The need and urgency that propelled the Akpata-led NBA to constitute such a committee as the NBA-SARC, cannot be overemphasized, especially in the face of reoccurring cases of harassment of legal practitioners by security agencies.

To bridge the trust-gap between lawyers and security agencies, the importance of a relations committee cannot be overstretched. Strong relationships of mutual trust between security agencies and the legal community are critical to maintaining public safety and effective policing. Security agencies among other measures rely on the cooperation of legal practitioners in ensuring that the three-way traffic of justice is attained – for the victims, the perpetrators, and society. A lawyer’s willingness to therefore trust any security agency depends on whether they believe that such actions of the security agencies reflect the values, ideals and principles of procedural justice and legitimacy.

It will therefore not be out-of-place to refer to the NBA-SARC as a child of necessity, born to provide succour to the recurring trends of maltreatment of legal practitioners by security operatives whilst these legal practitioners discharge their official duties and obligations to clients. Such was our task, urgent and delicate, with no room for laxity, for time was of the essence and much was/is indeed at stake when the very custodians and ministers in the temple of justice are endangered, harassed, intimidated, and threatened in the course of carrying on their sacred and noble practice of the law. May the day never come when lawyers will cow to such wanton display of impunity.

It is consequent upon the foregoing urgency and delicate mandate of ours that we have set forth legal and diplomatic mechanisms, in a bid to reduce, and possibly eradicate the incessant cases of harassment of legal practitioners across the country.


Success demands singleness of purpose, this is even truer for the NBA-SARC in its present drive, where objectives have been narrowed down and concentrated on but a few things at a time. Mr. President has ably notified the NBA – SARC of its terms of reference, which are as hereunder highlighted:

1. Formulate policies to be implemented by the NBA (whether alone or in collaboration with other stakeholders) that will deal holistically with the risk posed to Nigerian lawyers by security agencies.

2. Collaborate with the relevant security agencies to promote and advance a mutually beneficial relationship between the said agencies and lawyers in Nigeria.

3. Develop and promote proper protocols for engagement with security agencies by lawyers, in the course of carrying out their professional duties.

4. Work with the various branches of the NBA to achieve, at the branch level, objectives that are similar to those set out in these terms of reference.

5. Promptly intervene in cases of harassment, unlawful detention, intimidation, etc. of lawyers (in the course of carrying out their professional duties) by security agencies.

6. Carry out any other function that may be assigned to the Committee by the President or the National Executive Council; and

7. Make recommendations to the NBA President as appropriate and carry out such other functions that are consistent with the foregoing or which are necessary to achieve the mandate of the Committee.


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. I consider myself supremely fortunate to lead the members of the NBA-SARC who have shown great understanding of the job required of them and the urgency with which to deliver on assignments and tasks. Indeed, I am only as strong as the weakest link in this great team. Imagine how amazed I am to know that I have got you all and your support too. I fondly remember the words of the American scientist, Mr. Jonas Edward Salk, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines, when he said “the reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” May I on that light note commend that, you all have put in your heart and soul, it is only fair to give you even more work.

Below is also the list of the members of the NBA – SARC, and their telephone contacts:

1 Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, MFR, OFR Chairman 08022231999
2 Alex Muoka Alternate Chairman 08033009242
3 Marian Jones Secretary 08033479752
4 Taiwo Lakanu (DIG Rtd) Member 08037160989
5 Mohammad I. Tsav Member 07035653513
6 Valentine Odili Member 08035047498
7 Adanna Lynda Uba Member 08032925119
8 Chief M. A. O. Iyamanbhor Member 08037204923
9 Julie Ariahu Member 08023411581
10 Salman Alhaji Salman Member 08037252757
11 Nnaemeka Emmanuel Otagburuagu Member 08039566682
12 Peter Chukwunyelu Ikebuaso Member 08033133739
13 John Aikpokpo-Martins Member 08023063841
14 Rabiah A. Hassan Committee Liaison Officer 08063579840


After less than 3 calendar months from the NBA-SARC’s inauguration, the Committee has taken giant strides toward achieving its mandate. This is evidenced by the Committee’s plethora of successful interventions and programs. These successes will be briefly but succinctly highlighted hereunder:

I. Our Interventions:
At the risk of seeming immodest, the NBA-SARC has successfully intervened in more than 15 cases involving members of the NBA and security agencies across Nigeria since its inauguration. Permit me to, briefly run through some of these interventions:

a. One of such foremost interventions by the NBA-SARC was the case of Mr. Israel Lagbamue of the NBA Badagry Branch, Lagos State, who sometime in March, 2021, allegedly stood surety for a client in respect of a probate matter which is presently pending in Court. It was gathered that while Mr. Lagbame’s client refused to return to the police station for the continuation of investigation, Mr. Lagbame travelled to Abuja for another matter at the Nigerian Police Force headquarters where he ran into the Investigating Police Officers (IPO) in his client’s investigation, who immediately arrested and brought Mr Lagbame to the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) Area 10, Garki Abuja, where he was detained. The NBA-SARC promptly interfaced with the Nigerian Police Force and through its concerted efforts, Mr. Israel Lagbamue Esq was released.

b. Another laudable intervention of the NBA-SARC is the case of Mr. Ekilikwo Justus, a legal practitioner and member of the NBA from the NBA Idemili branch, who was detained at the IRP Abuja for a case involving a land transaction. Various attempts had been made by the Idemili branch Chairman, to secure his release but these attempts appeared to be futile as security authorities were reluctant. The security operatives were of the view that Mr. Ekilikwo Justus had a case of murder to answer and as such, should not be released from detention. However, the NBA-SARC began interfacing with the Police and other relevant security outfits in order to resolve the case of Mr. Ekilikwo Justus and presently, all discrepancies are being cleared owing to the NBA-SARC’s steadfast efforts in the matter.

c. The NBA-SARC has also intervened in the case of one Yemi Abdulkareem v NPF (LASG/JPI/233/2020. Yemi Abdulkareem was brutalized and killed by a police officer during the EndSARS protest in 2020. In line with this, his family petitioned on his behalf for a sum of 10 Million Naira. Upon the intervention of the NBA-SARC with the Nigerian Police Force and through their continued efforts, the petition was treated under the Police brutality cases. The petition made by the family was found meritorious and the family was awarded the sum of 10 Million Naira by the EndSARS Lagos Judicial Panel.

d. Furthermore, on February 7, 2022, the NBA-SARC, released a statement condemning the abduction of three members of the NBA Warri Branch. The NBA-SARC further urged the Edo State government to work hand-in-hand with the Nigerian Police Force to put in place safety measures to protect legal practitioners and the general public at large. The NBA-SARC is also pleased to announce that the abducted members have been released and are now safe. Legal practitioners, are enjoined, to now, more than ever, be on alert and security conscious.

e. The NBA – SARC has further intervened in the following matters which will be briefly highlighted: the case of one Nyiev Jennifer Mimidoo, then the case of detaining Mr Wale, Vice Chairman, Ota Branch – 18/01/2022, to condemning the Kidnap of members of Warri Branch – 6/02/2022, then the Release of Mr. Ifeanyi Okonkwo and Mr. Paulinus Ezenwaka – 13/02/2022, to the Intervention in the maltreatment of Mr. Kolawole Isaac Abubakar, Esq by Officers of the Nigerian Customs Service – 27/02/2022, followed by the case of assault of Nnamdi Samuel Nwafor, Esq., to the Intervention in the assault of Redzie Jugo, Esq. of NBA Jos Branch and condemning the Arrest of Abubakar Marshall, who is Mr, Omoyele Sowore’s lawyer – 8/03/2022.

II. Our Courtesy Visits to Relevant Security Agencies:

On Tuesday, February 15, 2022, I led the hardworking members of the NBA-SARC on courtesy visits to Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (“ICPC”), and the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(“NDLEA”), Brig. Gen. Muhammad Buba Marwa (Rtd) respectively, and therein discussed the urgent need for partnership and cordial relations between the NBA, its members and officers of each of the security agencies.

On March 2, 2022, the NBA-SARC, also paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). We are scheduled to visit the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sometime this month.

III. Townhall Sensitization Webinar:

On Friday, February 4, 2022, The NBA-SARC, in furtherance of its mandate, has also organized a Townhall Sensitization Webinar, to create consciousness of its mandates. This was widely attended, as issues that affect the safety and welfare of legal practitioners were on the front burner of discussions.

IV. Round Table Discussion with Executives of the NBA Branches:
On Saturday, February 19, 2022, the NBA-SARC held a virtual roundtable discussion series with Executives Committee members of all Branches of the NBA to propose ways of seamless interaction between members of the Security Agencies and members of the NBA.

V. Virtual Townhall Sensitization for Young Lawyers:
The NBA-SARC has organized a Townhall Sensitization Webinar, for the Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) of the NBA in a bid to further sensitize on the NBA-SARC mandate and advise on the best ways for seamless interaction with members of the security agencies across the country.

VI. Participation in the CLEEN Foundation Methodology Workshop Ahead of Police Reform Audit in Nigeria:
Further to the directive of the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the NBA SARC, on February 15, 2022, participated in a methodology workshop, by CLEEN Foundation. The workshop brought together about 22 stakeholders with a focus on police reform in Nigeria to suggest and contribute to the research tools that will be deployed for the nationwide survey on police reform in Nigeria. The presentation of CLEEN Foundation methodology to stakeholders was with the view of incorporating seasoned views and opinions that will result in an effective research exercise and findings. The research was geared toward reestablishing commitment to ensuring accountability, and rights-respecting police service delivery in Nigeria.


The significance of this Townhall Meeting cannot be overstated. This Hybrid Townhall Meeting, themed “Lawyers, Security Agencies and the Rule of Law, will host sessions on topical issues such as conflict management between lawyers and security agencies, enhancing rule of law through harmonious collaboration vis-à-vis emerging issues in human rights abuses, amongst a host of other issues.

The Speaker for the Opening Plenary, DCP Simon Lough, SAN, will speak on: HISTORY OF DISPUTES BETWEEN LAWYERS AND SECURITY AGENCIES.

The Speaker for the 1st Session, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom SAN will beam searchlights on the topic: LIKELY REASONS FOR, AND MANAGING CONFLICT BETWEEN LAWYERS AND SECURITY AGENCIES


Prof. Peter Akper SAN, the Speaker for the 3rd Session will x-ray the concept: THE RULE OF LAW, THE BEDROCK OF MANAGING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LAWYERS AND SECURITY AGENCIES, While the Speaker for the Closing Plenary, Rt. Hon Nkeiruka Onyejiocha will lend her golden voice on the topic: LAWYERS AND SECURITY AGENCIES DICHOTOMY: EMERGING ISSUES IN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE.

The overall objective of this Maiden Townhall Meeting of the NBA-SARC is to champion the NBA President’s vision for prime cordial rapport between legal practitioners and security agencies across Nigeria, as well as project the urgent need for lawyers to claim the numerous benefits the NBA-SARC platform presently offers.


The NBA-SARC has also lined up a series of hybrid programs, physical and online, directed at sensitization of both personnel of security agencies and legal practitioners, viz Webinars, Workshops, Courtesy Visits, et al. tailored, ultimately, for an improved efficient and cordial relations with security agencies across the country, focally including the Nigerian Police Force.

We are raising subcommittees of the NBA-SARC at each of the 125 branches of the NBA, comprised of 5 to 15 members of the Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF), to be headed by the Chairmen of the YLF of each branch, and the National Chairman of the NBA YLF, to be co-opted to our Committee. This will provide a prompt complaint platform, more easily accessible to members of the NBA, at the various branch level. This will also help in the collation of harassment cases and intimidation against lawyers by security agencies, and importantly, the urgency with which they are dealt with.

It is also worthy of note that the YLF provides an arsenal that can be empowered by the NBA to help in the fight against human rights abuses, thereby promoting public interest lawyering.


Let me especially appreciate the NBA President for the prime leadership, vision, and foresight in inaugurating such a committee as the NBA-SARC. Indeed, you have taken the lead in leading the NBA to the promised land of our dreams. You dreamt dreams of a better Bar, we are seeing manifestations of your invigorated drive towards stamping out a passive Bar. We see a revamped and revived NBA, conscious of the plights, yearnings, and needs of the Nigerian lawyers. We see a Bar that works for all. I must appreciate you, personally and on behalf of the NBA-SARC for always being supportive of the strives and strides of the Committee.

I must also appreciate the other National Officers of the NBA, the National Executive Council of the NBA and, the Organizing Committee of this maiden NBA-SARC Hybrid Townhall Meeting. Your collective support has been priceless and is not taken for granted.

As the NBA-SARC passionately persists in carrying out its mandates, which majorly is directed towards ensuring the safety and welfare of all legal practitioners across the country, in line with the vision of the Akpata-led NBA, we urge all members of the Bar and Branch Chairmen/Chairpersons to fully support and indulge us by recommending and reporting cases of maltreatment, harassment, unfair treatment of any legal practitioner to the NBA-SARC. The Committee can only attain its goals if it receives maximum support from all members of the Bar.

You may further reach the Committee through its official social media handles, viz: WhatsApp: NBA-SARC, YouTube Channel: NBA-SARC, Facebook: Nba Sarc, Twitter: @NbaSarc, Email: nbasarc20@gmail.com Instagram: nbasarc, Telegram: NBA-SARC. The Committee is also working on a toll-free helpline.

We cannot overstate the importance of having all hands on deck for the NBA-SARC and the NBA to supersonically take the lead in the safety and welfare of all legal practitioners across the country. Indeed, ours is a passionate commitment to always take prompt steps in liaising with the necessary security agencies to address the needs of all those affected and of interested parties. Long Live the Bar!!

Thank you.

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Leading lawyer, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has posited that though there is no consensus on the particular areas to be restructured within the Nigerian polity, “there seems to be a general agreement that the Nigeria structure of governance should be reviewed, and at its epicenter, the CFRN.”

Speaking last Monday at the 2021 Law of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, the foremost arbitrator stated that “a successful review of the CFRN to alter the governance structures and reflect true federalism coupled with religious implementation of the altered structures, will set the foundation for a Nigeria of our dreams; a Nigeria whose dream can be echoed with belief and hope from the rainforest of the South to the windy desert of the North by all Nigerians.”

The theme of the Law Week is “The Nigeria of our dreams.”

Below is the full text of Gadzama’s presentation.


Being the Full Text of a Presentation

Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, DiplCArb, FCIArb, FNICArb, C.Arb
(Of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister/Life Bencher/Certified Mediator/Regulatory Consultant)
Bobajiro of Akure Kingdom.



I thank the Organizers of this Law Week as well as the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja Branch (the Tiger Branch) for not only inviting me to attend but also to speak at this auspicious occasion. My topic is the Nigerian State and the call for restructuring which shall be discussed within the context of the theme – the Nigeria of our Dreams.

There is a wide gap between dreaming and day-dreaming. Day-dreaming is a quick elusive delink from one’s immediate reality followed by a transition to quixotic ideals. The Freudian Theory posits that dreams are manifestations of one’s deepest desires and anxieties having the tendency to cause occurrence of creative thoughts to the dreamer or give a sense of inspiration . Hence whilst the former can be likened to a mere mirage of fantasies, the latter is a more deeply immersing series of thought processes in one’s sub-consciousness capable of spurring up creative ideas to translate this reality to manifestation. We cannot overstate; dreams are important as they encompass goals and more. Dreams give one’s life purpose, direction, and meaning. They shape life choices, help to build towards the future and create a sense of control and hope. The same can be applied to a nation. A country needs a dream, hopes and a purpose to move on.

I was almost born in Cameroon; in a Nigerian town called Mubi, situate at the Nigerian-Cameroonian border. I am therefore a proud but not an arrogant Nigerian. As a rising chap, I grew up with a curious mind nursed with knowledge from my immediate family and school. I began my primary education in Kainji in old Kwara State but now Niger State, I continued my elementary school at L.E.A. (Methodist) Primary School, Ibrahim Taiwo Road, (Formerly Market Road) Kaduna State, and L.E.A. (St. Michael-Anglican) Primary School, Sabon Gari, Kaduna State where I completed my primary education. Later on, I moved to Teachers’ College, Song, Adamawa State. Thereafter, I attended Borno College of Basic Studies (BOCOBS), Maiduguri now in Bama, and University of Maiduguri, Borno State, where I obtained my Bachelor of Laws degree after which I proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Lagos and obtained my Barrister at Law qualification to practise. Throughout all these formative years, as I journeyed through transitional experiences including and or hearing about the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), I harnessed different dreams for myself, my family and my country, Nigeria.

Like me, I know many fellow concerned Nigerians have earnest dreams for our great Nation. However, whether these dreams have found fruition or yielded manifest results remain a recurring rhetoric we must all ponder on. Rhetorically, have these dreams been achieved? Can we say for certain that we live in an ideal Nigeria? Or can we at least say that we are on the right course towards achieving the Nigeria of our dreams? Why are we not living the Nigerian dream? Indeed, who bells the cat for the current predicament of Nigeria? Do we blame the professionals, the technocrats, the scientists, the businessmen or the entrepreneurs? Your guess is as good as mine; certainly not! The questions are endless and the answers are not forthcoming.

The aphorism which says, “A fish rots from the head down” speaks volumes of truth on this subject. Although we may blame non-partisan and apathetic followership as having played a role in the quagmire, the overall and root cause of the problem is lack of quality, devoted and objective leadership born out of true democracy and patriotism. Sadly, leadership in our country has not been motivated by true federalism, fairness, equity, nationhood and good conscience. Rather, we have continued to experience a blatant scene of tribalism, nepotism, favoritism, unfair politicization of government policies, impunity, corruption and insecurity. Despite these setbacks impeding the materialization of our dreams for Nigeria, we must continue to dream.

The idea of developing and sustaining a national dream is to ensure that at every time in the nation’s existence, there are short-term, medium and long-term strategies set up to drive the nation towards living true to its strength and potentials for the benefit of its citizens. These laid down strategies will form the substratum of all the policies of its governments at all levels.

The idea of a national dream cannot be discussed without a reference to the famous “American Dream”. The American Dream which birthed the America we now celebrate, is the core American philosophy; that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their version of success in an egalitarian society. The American Dream is considered as a national ethos for the United States and embedded in it are the ideals of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality which are expected to shape and guide every government in the United States at the Federal, State and County level. The anticipated outcome is that these ideals will provide the environment for everyone to access the opportunity for prosperity and success as well as upward social mobility, so long as they are ready to work hard no matter the barriers. According to James Truslow Adams the American Dream guarantees that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. This essentially forms the foundation of America’s constitutional democracy.

In the case of Nigeria, we can only refer faintly to the lofty dreams and hopes of our foremost nationalists who ensured the birth of Nigeria but not a national dream per se. The closest semblance to a national dream in Nigeria would be the Preamble of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (CFRN), but that CFRN has often been adjudged to be document not emanating from Nigerians. Hence, the question; shouldn’t Nigeria at 60 years and more of independence be guided by a united purpose encapsulated in a national dream? Who knows, maybe the avenue provided by the NBA-Ikeja Branch during her law week will grow the momentum to have a workable and realizable Nigerian Dream.


Given the opportunity as one of the speakers to speak at this auspicious occasion, permit me to be part of the people proffering workable solutions in line with the dictates of our callings to always provide solutions to legal issues as can be seen infra.

There is no doubt that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) (CFRN) makes bold statements as to the system of governance the Nigerian State is to practise. The system professed without a doubt is Federalism . Federalism connotes a system of governance built on the strengths of a nation’s federating units. However, the provisions of the CFRN make the practicability of federalism a herculean task or even an impossible feat. I firmly believe curing some of these provisions might just be the flame that spark-kindles and sets ablaze Nigeria’s prosperity to create a Nigeria we all love and enjoy living in. In the quest to realizing a Nigeria of our dream, the practicability of federalism I believe, is the linchpin.

The not so fulfilling provisions of the CFRN especially regarding the practice of federalism, now popularly described in Nigeria as “true federalism” has continued to generate agitations for the review and further review of the CFRN. Some even advocate for a complete repeal of the CFRN. This outcry has found the umbrella name of ‘restructuring’. Though there is no consensus on the particular issues to be restructured, there seems to be a general agreement that the Nigeria structure of governance should be reviewed, and at its epicenter, the CFRN.

I share this sentiment and honestly believe that a successful review of the CFRN to alter the governance structures and reflect true federalism coupled with religious implementation of the altered structures, will set the foundation for a Nigeria of our dreams; a Nigeria whose dream can be echoed with belief and hope from the rainforest of the South to the windy desert of the North by all Nigerians. To this end, below are some of the key areas I sincerely believe the CFRN should be amended to reflect the structure that can birth a Nigeria of our dreams:-

1. The Preamble of the CFRN

The preamble is often the first content any reader of a statute comes across. It sets the tone and shapes the mind of the reader on his/her expectation of all the provisions contained in the statute. The Preamble of the CFRN houses the mission and vision of the Constitution. As such, it plays a pivotal role in defining to the mind of everyone reading it and the aspirations of Nigeria as a country. Unfortunately, the Preamble to the CFRN rather than narrate the dreams of Nigerians for us as a nation, breaths an air that lends affinal to the military regime. Notwithstanding that the Preamble is merely cosmetic and that the CFRN was handed down by the military regime, I believe that having had some years of civil rule coupled with the consistent progress of altering the Constitution to suit the new reality, it is desirable to alter the Preamble to reflect the dreams of the Nigerian people.

2. Local Government Administration and Autonomy

The current structure for the administration of the local governments under the CFRN sits on the fence between the federal system – which the Constitution was intended to profess – and the unitary system of governance. At best, the local government system has remained an idea in search of relevance. The local government administration system still breaths an air of the centralization model introduced under military rule and thus, betraying the ideals of federalism which we profess to practise under the CFRN. The ultimate goal for the creation of the local government administration system under the CFRN was to bring the government closer to the people at the grassroots. It was also to accelerate development and enable the local population to participate and hold those in power accountable for their governance roles. Unfortunately, the current provisions for local government as the third tier of government under the CFRN have failed to establish a viable structure to attain the aforementioned goals.

Section 7 (1) of the CFRN provides that “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every state shall, subject to section 8 of this constitution, ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.” The constitution assumes that the law and framework regulating the local government administration would be made by the State Houses of Assembly. Hence, the constitutional legal framework does not see or recognize the local government as the third tier of government, but merely as an appendage of the state government where the states enjoy absolute discretion over the local governments’ operations. This does not reflect the ideals of federalism.

Furthermore, the introduction of the State Joint Local Government Account (SJLGA) provided for under Section 162(6) of the CFRN has thwarted in essence the financial structure of the local governments. This provision ensures that all finances of local governments are appropriated by the State at its pleasure. This is so despite the provisions of section 162(3) which captures a disbursement of the amount of credit in the Federation Account to the Federal, State and Local Governments respectively.

The above queries show how the provision of section 2(2) of the CFRN is undermined by provisions within the same Constitution. I believe that in making progress, the Local Government should be unambiguously established under the CFRN as an autonomous unit of government with its administrative structure and functions as in Chapter V, Parts I and II for the Federal and State Governments respectively. The above provision should override the pretence expressed in section 7 of the CFRN. Also, the SJLGA regime should be jettisoned from the CFRN and replaced by a new regime of fiscal federalism where Local Governments will access their funds directly and be accountable for all that is allotted to them.

3. Federal Structure and Power Devolution
It has been said that the centralized nature of powers of government under the Nigerian federal system is the major bulwark standing against equal and progressive development of states and local government areas. It also stands against the effective exploration of the resources in Nigeria for development purposes. I believe that the need to devolve some of the powers vested at the centre will also serve the interest of the government in providing Nigerians with the opportunity to succeed.

I believe that to have a viable federation with the effective exploration of resources for development and bring dividends of governance closer to the people, certain items must be moved from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list. Furthermore, a list of items to be undertaken solely by the local government should be introduced by the Constitution to be called the ‘residual list’. This will mean that the general legislative limitation for the Local Government provided in Section 4(7)(a) of the CFRN should be deleted.

To be more specific, I propose that items 28 on fingerprints, identification and criminal records and 46 on posts, telegraphs and telephones should be moved to the concurrent legislative list as well as the residual legislative list. Furthermore, items 33 on insurance, 43 on patents, trademarks, industrial designs & merchandise marks, 45 on policing & other security services, 48 on prisons, 54 on quarantine, 55 on railways, 58 on stamp duty and 39 on mines, minerals including oil fields, oil mining, geological survey and natural gas, should be moved from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list.

4. Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security ArchitectureSection 214 of the CFRN provides for the establishment of the Police Force for the federation. This section displays a system whereby the police is under the management and control of the Federal Government at the expense of the federating units – the State Government. However, this arrangement has so far not favoured the country. The Police have been faced with an avalanche of problems, these issues include the accountability of the Police Force, and the high surge of crimes in different states of the country. The inability of the Police under exclusive Federal control to curb them poses a huge flaw to the federal arrangement. I believe that when policing is closer to the society of its jurisdiction, it enables the police to easily detect and uproot crimes. Where there is a common language known and understood by the police, there would be a free flow of communication and understanding between the police and the people. I believe that the creation of State Police will provide appreciable solutions to the current security challenges and enhance the effectiveness of the police in ending criminality in the country.

Effective security is a pivotal component of the Nigeria of our dreams. I believe every Nigerian agrees with me on this point.
To this end, I will be proposing the moving of item 28 on fingerprints, identification and criminal records, item 45 on police and other government security services and item 48 on prisons from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative list to allow states to fashion out their respective internal security architecture. This will enable genuine, beneficial and effective collaborations between police forces of each state to the other and the federal police. I believe this reform is long overdue. Each chief security officer of the state should appoint its head, or in the alternative, each state should be given the constitutional leeway to determine how such issues should be handled.

Nigeria must not only profess federalism but be seen to practise its tenets as well. I believe that our resolve to practise ‘true federalism’ will unlock our potentials and make this country a land where Nigeria of our dream can be realised.

5. Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation
In Nigeria today, the resources of the country belong to the federal government, and the fund to be generated is kept in the federation account and is shared monthly among the three tiers of government: the federal, state and local government. This is a misnomer. Federating units are supposed to tap their resources to generate revenue and pay an agreed percentage as tax to the centre or the federal government. This makes the states to be inferior and subservient to the centre. Many activists have been agitating for true federalism to enable the states to control their resources. As observed by Professor Ohwona, there is nothing like true federalism. Either it is Federalism or Unitary. Concentrating the wealth of the country at the centre is an outstanding feature of a Unitary Government. Why is it that some sections of Nigeria are agitating for fiscal federalism in a country that claims to be a federation? The principles of federalism should affect everything. For example, in the US, the federating units manage their resources and pay taxes to the central government. There has never been such agitation. Under the regional government in the first republic, Nigeria made remarkable progress with the three and later four regions using the resources at their disposal to make life meaningful for their citizens.

As highlighted earlier, fiscal federalism must not be a lip service by the CFRN. Revenue allocation must reflect the tenets of fiscal federalism. Every federating unit must understand what resources are within their grasp that can create wealth for them and be allowed to explore it subject to remitting taxes. Access to the exploration of natural resources must be open and decentralized as much as possible, if there is a desire to have a Nigeria we all can declare it as one of our dreams.

6. Residency and Indigene Debate
Indigeneship has become one of the most contested subjects in the country, given its implications for political and economic opportunities. In Nigeria, a person has to be ‘indigene’ to access certain economic and political opportunities at the federal as well as state and local government levels. However, what makes a person indigenous is not formally defined in the CFRN.

The CFRN recognizes indigeneship in some sections. Section 147(1,2 &3) in providing for the appointment of Minister of the Federal Government recognizes the principle of Federal Character under section 14(3). Similarly, section 171 (5) of the CFRN makes it mandatory that the President shall comply with the federal character principle in the appointment of other key public officers of the Government of the Federation including the ambassadors, high commissioners and permanent secretaries or heads of any extra-ministerial departments of the government of the federation.

Despite the indigeneship principle, political and economic imbalances still exist amongst the various states or ethnic groups that make up Nigeria and this is as a result of its implementation. The inclusion of the federal character principle in Chapter II Constitution which is ordinarily non-justiciable hinders its smooth implementation and enforcement because it deprives citizens of the locus to approach the court to enforce the principle of federal character. This incites the Government to disregard the principle of federal character in the composition of the Government of the Federation and its agencies.

To flourish as a nation, Nigeria must decide whether to stick with the federal character provisions of the CFRN or jettison the idea completely. If the practice is maintained, then failure to adhere to it must be made justiciable with monumental consequences, otherwise, the provision should be done away with.

Let us have a Christian from Calabar who grew up in Sokoto and govern the State as a Nigerian, and likewise, a Kanuri Muslim who grew in Port Harcourt should enjoy the same privilege. This is by no means an easy path, but the path is a must if Nigeria desires the type of progress that makes it resonate as the dreams of its people. We can do this by providing for residency for a period of say five or ten years.

7. Irreconcilable Provisions in the Constitution
Section 315(5)(d) of the Constitution made the Land Use Act of 1978 a part of the Constitution. Section 2 of the Land Use Act provides thus:

2. (1) As from the commencement of this Act-
(a) all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each State; and

(b) all other land shall, subject to this Act, be under the control and management of the Local Government within the area of jurisdiction of which the land is situated.

Despite this provision, section 44(3) of the Constitution provides that the entire property in and control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in under or upon any land in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in the Government of the Federation and shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly. This is reinforced by Item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List. A true federal structure requires that Item 39 should be moved to the Concurrent List and section 44(3) amended.

Another irreconcilable difference – Items 27-29 in the Concurrent Legislative List. The Items give powers to the National and State Assemblies to establish institutions for the purpose of university, technological or professional education. Yet the Federal Government established the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to regulate admissions into tertiary institutions and the National Universities Commission to regulate these institutions. In consequence, we need to re-visit section 4(5) of the Constitution that provides that if any law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void. Why should the federal law prevail over matters in the Concurrent List where the State Assemblies can validly make laws? In other words, we should re-visit the ‘doctrine of covering the field’. This doctrine is inconsistent with the federal principle. States should be allowed to establish and regulate tertiary education in their States. States should be allowed to develop at their own pace.

As I conclude, it is not lost on me that there has been many lofty written and spoken recommendations in the past, some have even gone ahead to develop a national dream for Nigeria, however, we as a nation seemed to have stepped on chameleon feaces, hence stagnant. No doubt, a dream is important so is the path to its realization. I believe that the growing awareness of this discussion in Nigeria is gradually bringing us to a point of unison, where we all can together re-design a Nigeria of our dreams.

As the process for alteration of the CFRN is ongoing, we must continue to speak to our elected representatives at the National Assembly to critically consider, for the sake of national cohesion, integration and prosperity of the country, various workable proposals already submitted in the course of public hearing recently conducted. The era of standing aloof watching our legislators to do as it pleased them is over, now it is time to get involved. Edmund Burke once emphasized thus,

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

I am here today, reiterating this statement and encouraging everyone of us to get involved. Do not be a spectator, onlooker or bystander, be an active participant so that this process will not be another jamboree but one that brings workable solutions at addressing some of the challenges facing us as a country – please ensure you count and you are counted. We must dust the files now.

Agitations on this discussion were the basis of the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference, the National Political Reform Conference convened by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 and the National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. These conferences made laudable recommendations that can come to aid in our attempt at re-designing the Nigeria of our dreams.

Before I take my seat, please permit to share my poetic dream for Nigeria with you:

I dream of a country that rewards hard work and excellence, irrespective of a person’s social status, cultural belief, faith, tongue, gender chauvinism and circumstances of birth;

I dream of a Nigeria with purposeful, visionary and exemplary leadership which extols national interests above individual and sectional interests;

I dream of a day Nigerians will have leaders that are unifying figures and who command moral authority;

I dream of a Nigeria with free, fair, transparent and credible national elections;

I dream of a Nigeria where humanity is our race, our language is one and indigenship is true to all citizens regardless of residency in any State. I dream of a Nigeria where unity binds all peoples both at home and in diaspora.

I dream of a Nigeria where a nobody can become somebody and a somebody is treated as equal with someone regarded as a nobody in the eyes of the law – where the rule of law is worshipped and the sacredness of justice is not corrupted. I dream of a Nigeria where equity, fairness, transparency and justice thrive above all intents and aspirations of persons.

I dream of a Nigeria inspiring the African continent and the black race to her pride of place in the world;

I dream of a Nigeria where the legal profession and the Bar play a pivotal role in nation-building since we are the primus inter pares.

I dream, I dream and I dream of a better Nigeria where everyone mutually co-exists and lives peacefully with a wide range opportunity to thrive and succeed in any lawful profession, trade or vocation anywhere he or she resides. I dream of a brighter future for our Children and children’s children. I pray that all Nigerians work to make these dreams come to pass in the not too distant future.

Thank you for your attention.

1. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
2. Proposal for Further Alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) by J-K Gadzama LLP, 2021.
3. Mark Abrahams, PhD, LMHC, National Board Certified Fellow in Clinical Hypnotherapy – https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-dreaming-and-day-dreaming
4. Sir James Porter’s publications on the Religion, Law, Government, and Manners of the Turks, 1768.
5. Epic of America by James Truslow Adams, 1931.
6. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, 1891.
7. Animal Farm by George Orwell, 1945.
8. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, 1937.
9. https://www.britannica.com/topic/federalism

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