Professor calls for rewriting of Nigerian Constitution in simple, plain English
Professor John Oluwole Akintayo, a professor of law and international law at the University of Ibadan in Ibadan, South-West Nigeria, has called for the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Constitution to be rewritten in straightforward language.
The call was made by Professor Akintayo in his inaugural lecture, “The Lawful Use of Law,” which he gave on behalf of the faculty of law at the University of Ibadan.
“The use of plain language in legislation should also be promoted,” he declared. It is important to step up research into customary law. From the ward to the local government, states should start the process of documenting customary law and create a restatement at the state level.
In order to ensure its continued relevance and to ensure that the solemn document stands to inspire confidence in the people it is to govern, the inaugural lecturer suggested that the constitutional document should be reviewed periodically by a body of technical experts in the broader context of social justice.
The issue of justice permeates all forms of adjudication, but Professor Akintayo said he stressed its significance in constitutional adjudication because of its propensity to have a multiplier effect. He noted that once people lose trust in the constitution, it is almost impossible to regain it.
He explained that all litigants, whether they be private individuals, government officials, or institutions, must receive impartial justice from the courts, making it crucial that the proper machinery be put in place to ensure that justice is administered impartially in such proceedings.
Professor Akintayo added that in order to advance justice by passing laws that would enhance the welfare of common people and other marginalized groups in society, the legislature must be motivated by the spirit of the constitution.
He argued that ignoring existential issues could drive people to violence, which would then likely result in drastic changes.
Akintayo asserted that judges and attorneys, who are the custodians and dispensers of justice, must be aware of their enormous obligations to uphold, defend, and protect the law as well as their sacred duty to honor it by covering it with justice whenever possible.
In order to ensure that elected officials and other public servants uphold the law, citizens must keep an eye on them, claims Professor Akintayo.
“Professionals of all disciplines, intellectuals of all learning, as well as credible politicians of all persuasions, in and out of government, must see their privileged position in terms of access to wealth and/or knowledge as imposing a bounden duty on them to use their best efforts to make the law honorable and to seek its overhaul or modification where it has become an instrument of injustice and has outlived its relevance,” Professor Akintayo affirmed.