You Can Function Without A Mace, Falana Tells Lawmakers
Human Rights Lawyer Mr. Femi Falana, on Sunday said the invasion of the Senate by some yet-to-be identified hoodlums who made away with Mace and the bickering that came with the incident were uncalled for, saying there is no provision for the use of Mace by the Legislative arm of government in Nigeria’s constitution.
Falana disclosed this at the unveiling of the new 44 feet Gani Fawehinmi statue at the Liberty Park, Ojota, Lagos built by the Lagos State Government, in commemoration of the 80th posthumous birthday of the late legal luminary.
He pointed out that the incident which occurred in the Senate recently was uncalled for because the legislature had no need for, and did not need a Mace before it could deliberate on any matter.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said, “For the lawmakers in Abuja, Gani Fawehinmi would have wanted to warn those fighting over the Mace. I am happy that there are many lawyers here and also the Attorney General of Lagos. There is no provision for Mace in the Nigerian constitution. There are 320 sections in the constitution and there was no-where any reference was made to the Mace.
“So why are they fighting over something that is unknown to the constitution? It is not true that before the House must sit, there must be a Mace. It is a convention of the British parliament. We have imported a colonial idea and we are fighting ourselves over it,” Falana said.
He also stressed that some streets named after those he described as criminals and colonial masters such as Lugard, Bourdillon, Kingsway, Leventis, James Robertson, etc., should be renamed to bear indigenous names of exemplary citizens, describing the colonial masters as ‘colonial criminals’, many of whom were, according to him, slave traders who stole the nation’s vast resources.
Falana extolled the virtues of the late Gani, describing him as a shining example of a man who stood for justice, accountability, relevance, transparency in government, and one who was a thorn in the flesh of dictators.
The activist lawyer applauded the Lagos state government for the gesture of erecting the statue, which is 34 feet in height, standing on a 10 foot pedestal; making it a massively imposing edifice to behold at the Ojota park.
“While Lagos state has decided to honour those that worked for the masses unlike one state governor, who honoured someone six months ago, and we warned him to pull down the statue because you are honouring a criminal. Today, that president that was honoured in Owerri, Imo state, is now standing trial in South Africa.
“We are happy that is not our portion today. But I implore Lagos state government to rename all those streets named after criminals, especially colonial administrators, who came to Nigeria to cart our resources away. We must change those names immediately. Some of the streets are Bourdillon, Kingsway and others. It is a shame that our governments are still honouring criminals. Some of them were slave traders. We are even still paying them pension,” he lamented.
“Gani stood for justice, accountability, relevance, transparency in government and was a torn in the flesh of dictators.
He lived at a time that it was a risk for any activist to engage in human rights work in the country. He conquered fear and dictators were often afraid of him.
“During the military administration, when we were both jailed, I found him to be a very committed individual to fundamental change, that is, change from poverty to prosperity for the masses.
“He is gone but lives forever because great people don’t die but pass on, while their message remains forever. We were wondering when the previous statue was collapsing, but the one we have today will stand the test of time,” Falana said.
He added that the greatest battle Gani fought, which almost led to the loss of his life was his attempt to trace, track and indict those who murdered Dele Giwa.
According to him, though he didn’t succeed before his death, he is glad that presently anyone who is killed in Lagos state through extrajudicial means would not just be dismissed but be made to face the law.
“The Lagos state government has enacted a law, the Coroner Sequence Law, to ensure that whenever any one in Lagos is killed, there shall be an inquest to find out who murdered the person. That is the battle which he didn’t win while alive but achieved posthumously,” he said.