Justice Chima Nweze of the Supreme Court has said if the constitutional provisions dealing with the disqualification for elective offices are properly utilised, it would prune the number of ‘hoodlums and sundry miscreants’ vying for political offices in the country.
Justice Nweze stated this at the weekend while delivering a keynote address titled: ‘Age Quod Agis: the Route to National Cohesion and Integration’, at the inaugural ceremony of the Old Seminarians Association of Nigeria (OSAN).
He also called on the Nigerian Church to enlighten the people on how to invoke the provisions of the Electoral Act dealing with the questions of character, credentials and the antecedents of contestants.
Nweze was of the opinion that priests can no longer remain aloof and indifferent to the corrupt leadership, which he said has inflicted so much pain on the people.
The Supreme Court Justice pointed out that it would be correct to assert that the dogmatic constitution of the Church endorses the concept of evangelisation of human structures through confrontation with those factors that contribute to economic injustice.
He stated: “It lies within your power to stem the influx of persons whose credentials are of dubious origin, and candidates who have found themselves in conflict with the law, particularly, on matters verging on fraud and dishonesty, into the various legislative houses.
“Certainly, the constitutional provisions dealing with disqualification for elective offices, if properly utilised, would prune the share number of hoodlums and sundry miscreants vying for political offices.”
Nweze lamented that Nigeria is highly divided along ethnic, religious, political and ideological lines, adding that this division comes with serious suspicion, distrust, and hatred among the diverse citizens.
The Justice said efforts towards national integration as a national interest and project in Nigeria were challenged by corruption, baseless party politics and worst of all, insecurity.
The Supreme Court Justice said the country, in the face of these challenges, requires that its citizens think beyond their differences to propel the country into maximising its potential towards the actualisation of greatness.
Nweze noted that without love encapsulated in good neighbourliness, and imbibed by the citizens, the different components that make up the country would persist as dividing factors among the people.
He therefore called on the Nigerian Church to espouse what a theologian once called ‘the evangelisation of human structures’.
He said the Nigerian Church should be reminded that the biblical Prophets of old, Isaiah; Jeremiah; Amos; Hosea: Micah, among others, did not play the ostrich with regard to the socio-economic challenges that confronted the people of their times.
On his part, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, said the security challenges facing the country have shown that the federal government lacks the capacity to police the country.
He described the killing of the younger brother of the Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Swore, as ‘extremely disturbing’, saying all these developments confirm that nobody is safe in the country.
Falana noted that the country needs 500,000 police personnel to be able to police the country effectively.
Falana stated: “Right now, security forces are overstretched, and I was reading somewhere this morning that the government is trying to recruit 20,000 policemen, to do what? Over 10,000 police personnel are leaving the service every year, so you are recruiting nobody.
“The position on ground is that not less than a million police personnel be recruited and well-equipped to man the security of the country. But right now, you have the military in the Federal Capital Territory and 34 out of 36 states. You can’t police a country with the army or with the armed forces because that is the business of the police. And so, the government will have to equip the police and we have to acquire security gadgets.”