Ekweremadu to Deliver US Constitution Day Lecture

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Anayo Okolie

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, will deliver the 2016 edition of the United States of America (USA) Constitution Day Lecture entitled the ‘Influence of the U.S Constitution on African Democracies’.
This was announced by the US Law Library of Congress, the organisers of the annual event, at the weekend.

By this, Ekweremadu, who is both the Deputy President of Nigerian Senate and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution for a record third term, will be the first non-US citizen to deliver the august lecture commemorating the ratification of the world’s oldest written constitution on September 17, 1787.

The statement reads in part: “In commemoration of Constitution Day, the Law Library of Congress will host a discussion about the influence of the U.S. Constitution on African democracies. The event will feature Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy President of the Senate of Nigeria, and immediate past Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States.

“He will explore how elements of the US Constitution have influenced the rise of democracy in Africa and how these rising democracies have expanded upon rights inspired by the US Constitution.
“The discussion will take place at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 7, in room LJ-119 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.”

The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.
“Sen. Ekweremadu is a ranking Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having been consecutively elected into its Senate in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015. He is also known for his guidance in overseeing the first (three sets) and only amendment(s) to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

“He has held several elective and appointive positions before coming to the Senate.
“Sen. Ekweremadu has published and spoken extensively on constitution-making in emerging democracies. He is the author of the book ‘Who Will Love My Country: Ideas for Building the Nigeria of Our Dreams’ (2016) and lead author of the book ‘Constitutional Review in an Emerging Democracy: The Nigerian Experience’ (2014).”
The organisers also noted that the “Constitution Day was established by (U.S) Congress in 2004 to recognise the ratification of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787”.

Meanwhile, Ekweremadu, on Friday hinted that the only possible way forward for the Judiciary in Nigeria is for separation of the Office of the Attorney General from the Minister of Justice.
Ekweremadu stressed that, this move would give room for the office to work for the people and not essentially for the government. He added that, “it is very key to toe this lane which will also ensure that, individuals, citizens have access to justice without fear of persecution or whatsoever.
He disclosed this while on a facility tour of the ongoing Nigeria Bar Association Secretariat in Abuja.
According to him, “I want to commend the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barr. Austin Aleghe (SAN) for the great job that he is doing here.

“You see, what we experienced in our country is that when people come to power whether in government or private sector. They meet projects and they abandoned the projects. But, you know, he met this project and he has taken it this far and we must commend he. And, we have also discuss the cost implications. For me, it sounds a lot conservative because, he has to apply himself in all the processes to get to where we are at a very conservative cost. So, I must commend him.”

Ekweremadu while answering questions from the press, spoke on the imperatives of the separation of the office of the Attorney General from the Minister of Justice. “You know, the last Constitution amendment exercise, we recommended that to our colleagues who graciously accepted it unfortunately, the last President did not sign it.

“I still believe that, that’s the way to go and subjects to what other of my colleagues will say and I think the separation of the office will ensure fairness, will ensure justice and will also ensure independence in the system because, if you have an independent Attorney General, he works for the people and not essentially for the government which is very key. But, we are subject to what our people desire and for what they want. So, whatever is the outcome, I’m all for it. But, for me as a person, I believe those two offices needs to be separated.”
Speaking further on the separation of the two offices, he disclosed that there are certain provisions in the fourth alterations to provide for the independence.

Speaking also on during the facility tour, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senate. Senator Ita Enang, said, “This facility is a pride to the Bar. It will be very encouraging to the upcoming generation of lawyers and very encouraging to us, the Senior at the Bar.

“I want to join the Deputy President of the Senate to commend the National President of the NBA Barr. Austin Aleghe (SAN) and the entire NBA. And it is our hope that we will be able to commission this project before the next Annual Conference so that, it will be their names that would be on the Black before commissioning it.”
Responding, Aleghe thanked Ekweremadu and Enang for making out time for the visit.

According to him, “It is very important that those you served and those who have employed us to work come see the work that we are doing. This project was started by my predecessor in office and we felt that it is something that he has done very well and that we should continue. By the grace of God and with the support of the entire Bar, we have been able to reach this place. We believe that in the next few weeks, the building will be completed and it is already about 75 per cent completed.”