2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
MAY 28, 2014
Chairman Loses Wife
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at the plenary session of the National Conference were
mournfully adjourned on Wednesday following the news of the
death of Maryamu, the wife of the Conference Chairman and
retired Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Legbo
Maryamu, aged 70, died at the National Hospital in Abuja at
about 2 am on Wednesday and has already been buried in line
with Islamic rites.
Deputy Chairman of the Conference and former Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, who presided
over a brief session of the conference said it was only
proper that the Conference be adjourned to enable delegates
participate in the burial.
Delegates who readily and unanimously agreed to the proposal
for adjournment expressed shock at the death and the fact
that Conference Chairman could still preside over
proceedings until the last day of sitting while the wife was
in the hospital.
The Deputy Chairman described the late Maryamu as a pillar
of strength to the Conference Chairman and regretted that
she had passed on at a time the retired Justice was handling
a critical national assignment and needed her closeness and
Akinyemi said it was in demonstration of his deep sense of
patriotism and commitment to the affairs of the country that
Justice Kutigi continued to preside over the Conference
throughout the period the wife was lying ill in the
Before the adjournment on Wednesday, delegates had earlier
in the week agreed not to have plenary session on Thursday
May 29 which has been declared a public holiday by the
Federal Government in celebration of Democracy Day.
It was agreed that proceedings at the plenary will resume on
Monday June 2 with deliberation on more reports of
committees and adoption of recommendations contained in the
Before the immediate adjournment of sitting on Wednesday,
Conference had indicated its readiness to conduct debate on
the report of the Committee on Public Finance and Revenue
headed by Senator Adamu Aliero with Senator Azu Agboti as
Also slated for resolution on Wednesday were issues arising
from previous committee reports that were put in “bracket”
by the principal officers of the conference due to
objections raised when they came under consideration.
Such issues include the recommendation by the Committee on
Land Tenure and National Boundaries that the Land Use Act be
expunged from the constitution for easy amendment of the Act
for the benefit of the people.
Some of the delegates were opposed to the recommendation
while others applauded it; a situation that forced the
presiding officers of the Conference to put the issue in
“bracket” and appoint some delegates from every section of
the country to meet and resolve the impasse.
Another of such issue placed in “bracket” by the presiding
officers surfaced on Tuesday during deliberation on the
report of the Committee on Religion that recommended the
establishment of what it called Religious Equity Commission
The committee stated that the commission would have the
statutory mandate of advocacy, enforcement of constitutional
religious rights such as freedom of religion, freedom to
acquire land for religious purposes, among others.
While some of the delegates said the National Human Rights
Commission should be empowered to handle such issues, others
believed the new commission would serve useful purposes.
The committee envisaged the RECOM to serve as a platform
that would bring individuals of the major religions in
Nigeria to interact and crystalise ideas that would foster
unity and tolerance; as well as monitor and investigate and
expose cases of religious discrimination and violation.
The body was also meant to monitor cases of religious
extremism - both in ideology and practice - and formulate
counter narratives that are balanced and tolerant to
neutralise such extremism.
It would have equally served as a watch dog and enforcer of
religious rights of all persons, thereby creating confidence
and trust in every Nigerian no matter their religious
affiliations while also monitoring and investigating cases
of hate speeches and utterances meant to incite religious
tension and prosecute persons responsible.
When arguments for and against could not be resolved before
close of session on Tuesday, the presiding officers decided
to put it in abeyance till the next sitting.
Also put in abeyance was the recommendation by the Committee
on Religion for the scrapping of the Pilgrims Welfare Board
or its movement to the Foreign Affairs Ministry following
the adoption of the recommendation for non-sponsorship of
pilgrimages by government at any level.
Some of the delegates were of the view that scrapping the
welfare body would hinder preparation for pilgrimages while
others believed retaining the board would be
counter-productive since government’s non-involvement in
pilgrimages had already been resolved and adopted.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
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