A Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law in the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan, Professor John Oluwole A. Akintayo has called for the rewriting of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in simple and plain English.
He made the call in an inaugural lecture he delivered at the University of Ibadan on behalf of the Faculty of Law.
Professor Akintayo said the use of plain language in legislation should also be encouraged.
Research in Customary Law should be intensified. States should begin the process of documenting Customary Law from ward to local government and produce a restatement at the state level, he added.
The inaugural Lecturer advised that constitutional document should be examined periodically by a body of technical experts in the broader context of social justice to ensure its continued relevance and to ensure that the solemn document stands to inspire confidence in the people it is to govern.
He submitted that once the people lose trust in the Constitution, it is almost impossible to regain it.
Professor Akintayo stated that the issue of justice permeates all types of adjudication but said he emphasised its significance in constitutional adjudication because of its propensity to have a multiplier effect.
Courts, he said, are obliged to dispense even-handed justice to all categories of litigants before them, be they private persons or government functionaries or institutions. This, according to Professor Akintayo, makes it imperative that adequate machinery be put in place for the dispensation of even- handed justice in such proceedings.
Professor Akintayo stated that the Legislature must draw inspiration from the spirit of the Constitution to advance justice by enacting laws that would improve the welfare of the average citizens and others who are at the margin of society. He submitted that indifference to existential problems may push citizens to the wall, adding that when this happens, violent changes may become inevitable.
He said judges and lawyers who are custodians and dispensers of justice must be conscious of their enormous responsibilities to preserve, defend, and protect the law and their sacred duty to dignify it by clothing it with justice at all times.
Professor Akintayo said citizens must keep watch over elected officials and public officers to ensure their fidelity to the law.
He said 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 endeavours to make the law honourable and to seek its overhaul or modification where it has become a vehicle of injustice and has outlived its relevance.
Professor Akintayo’s lecture was entitled ” The Lawful Use of Law”.