Reactions have continued to trail the proposed legislation by Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, intended to make laws regarding property and the economy to protect indigenes of the state.
Obasa had in his acceptance speech after his re-election for the third time, declared that Lagos is a Yoruba land and that laws passed by the assembly will now be translated to Yoruba language, adding that laws will be made to protect the interests of indigenous people of Lagos while also noting that lawmakers will reverse all that is reversible to protect the interest of the indigenes.
Reacting during an Arise TV programme, Dr Reuben Abati, who condemned Mr Obasa for such divisive statement, noted that the function of the legislature at the level of the house of assembly, according to the constitution, is “to make laws for peace, order, and good governance of Nigeria.”
His words: “That statement made by speaker Obasa, I don’t see how that promotes peace, order, and good governance. His statement is provocative as you’d recall that during the just concluded elections, ethnicity was such a big problem in Lagos state, resulting in conflict in parts of Lagos between indigenes and other persons of other ethnic extraction to the extent that indigenes were carrying rituals and threatening non indigenes to leave Lagos.
“You can’t have that in a society. Why did Obasa consider it necessary to reopen that matter? He should talk like somebody who is interested in the national interest; public interest and not a provincial person, dredging up antediluvian sentiments, ‘Lagos belongs to the Yorubas, Lagos is a no man’s land’. I thought that argument was part of the politics. He should not use the platform of the house of assembly to play politics. That’s not leadership,” he added.
Dr Abati further advised public office holders to only speak when necessary, saying that, “This is what we say to public officials all the time, if you don’t have something to say that will appeal to reasonable thinking members of the society, can you just shut up. The issues that he raised can cause problem in Lagos state. I hope nobody goes ahead with that because the constitution of Nigeria grants every Nigerian the right to own property; Section 43, movable and immovable, in any part of Nigeria. “Section 42 says you cannot be discriminated against in this country on the basis of your ethnicity, religion or anything. The threat to reverse whatever that is reversible because you are not a Yoruba person or from Lagos state, that is discriminatory. I am surprised because Mr. Obasa is a lawyer, maybe he is just playing to the gallery, but this kind of thing can cause conflict, disorder.”
Also condemning Obasa, Ayo Mairo-Ese said, “We are on the path to healing and restoration. What we saw during the march 11 election in Lagos is what we shouldn’t see again; is what politicians should never play to again”, stressing that “what we should be looking at is how to bring people together.’
She also emphasised that what makes “Lagos a Centre of Excellence is the fact that people from around the world can come here and thrive and excel and contribute to the prosperity of Lagos state.”
It’s a drum of disunity - Olakunle Edun
Former National Publicity Secretary and current National Welfare Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Olakunle Edun said: “Nigeria is a country governed by laws. We have a Constitution which is our grundnorm. It is the fundamental right of every Nigerian to move to anywhere he wants to in Nigeria and acquire property anywhere he likes. That is a right that no law of any State can take away. A State House of Assembly cannot lawfully pass any law that will be discriminatory against other tribes or groups within a State or pass any law that will violate the fundamental rights of other Nigerians. That will be unconstitutional.
“Lagos State has always been a pacesetter in terms of good governance in Nigeria. It is the only State (Ogun State being the second) that delights in welcoming all Nigerians. I want to believe that the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly was quoted out of context because if not, then he is on a path of disaster. All Nigerians have come to take Lagos as their home and they have also contributed to the development of Lagos State. They pay tax. The State Government should ensure mutual respect, harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst indigenes and non-indigenes. This is what will make Lagos State greater and more attractive for investment. Non-indigenes should also respect the official and traditional institutions of the State where they are resident. We must stop beating the drums of disunity.’
It’s shameful, disgraceful, Ojo
Constitutional lawyer and University don, Gbenga Ojo said: We are thinking of moving the country forward in terms of unity in the Country, a house of Assembly is preaching ethnicity even amongst the Yorubas. The Ijeshas, Ijebus, Egbas, Ekitis, where will they stand in the scheme of things? It is shameful and retrogressive. This modern age? Targeted at who? The Igbos? Our forefathers fought to keep Nigeria as one. Hopefully Ekiti State House of Assembly, Oyo State House of Assembly or even Kaduna State House of Assembly or Enugu State House of Assembly will pass similar laws.. The law will be unconstitutional even if they pass such a ridiculous law.”
No legislation can reverse legal titles - Ufeli
Constitutional Lawyer and Executive Director, Cadrell Advocacy Center, Evans Ufeli said:
“The legislation the Lagos State House of Assembly ought to enact are laws that will protect all owners of properties not just indigenes, people who have acquired properties genuinely in the state should be protected by subsidiary legislations from the Lagos State government since the constitution in chapter 4 already made copious provisions that a citizen can own properties in any part of Nigeria thereof.
“Any law therefore made by the State House of Assembly should complement the federal law – constitution.
The indigenes of Lagos State who sold their properties to non-indigenes in good faith will not be able to reverse such a transaction by any legislation made by the Lagos State House of Assembly.
I must say that Lagos is a Yoruba land, it belongs to its indigenes, it is never a no man’s land and should never be addressed as such, as same is inflammatory and will amount to spitting on the heritage of a people with a collective dynasty.”