Constitution Review – Religious Leaders Canvass Enforcement of Human Rights, Gender Equality

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Leaders of Christian and Muslim groups urge Nigeria to prioritise the enforcement of human rights.

Religious leaders have advised that the enforcement of human rights should be prioritised in the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution.

Leaders of Christian and Muslim groups stated this in their presentation at the North Central zonal public hearing in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, on Wednesday.

The two-day event, organised by the House of Representatives special Committee on Constitutional Review, started on Tuesday and ended Wednesday across the country.

Over 15 presentations were made by political leaders, traditional rulers, pressure groups and individuals from different parts of the region.

Speaking on behalf of the Muslim Congress, a religious organisation, Quasim Opakunle, advocated gender equality in the constitution.

“We considered section 42 of the fundamental human rights. We looked at all these rights and we realised that, particularly, the female gender (is) being disadvantaged and it’s basically due to the nature of our society.”

“We have a society which is misogynistic. Misogynistic in the sense that we believe that women do not have equal rights as men. Whereas, Allah that created all of us, gave us (the) same senses, same physiology… Most of the females are even more intelligent than we male.”

Mr Opakunle further said females are marginalised when it comes to decision-making and policy drafting.

“Females should be given rights and it will not be given to them until the state itself reviews it constitution,” he prayed.

In a similar vein, the Kogi State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), John Ibenu, emphasised that no Nigerian should be treated differently as it borders on human rights.

“We want to address the equality of all persons before the law. We are all equal before God. The constitution is for every Nigerian. There should be no sacred cows or someone treated differently.”

He said the Christian group is asking for institutional provision for the enforcement of fundamental human rights.

However, in his reaction, the Chairman of the Lokoja Centre and a member of the federal House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, promised that this edition of the constitution review will be different from the ones held in the past.

“I can assure you that it will be a fruitful one,” the lawmaker said.

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