Ban on civil servants from traditional titles unconstitutional —HURIWA

Posted by News Express | 27 June 2013 | 4,769 times

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A civil rights group, Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has warned the Nigerian Government to withdraw the blanket ban on civil servants holding or accepting traditional chieftaincy titles. The ban, according to HURIWA, curtail civil servants’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of association and breaches Nigeria’s desire to advance her practices.

Citing section 21 (a) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended), the rights group said the circular from Nigeria’s Head of Service has breached the salient provision that urges government to make policies to “protect, preserve, and promote the Nigerian cultures which enhance human dignity and are consistent with the fundamental objectives as provided in this chapter.”

HURIWA said the directive banning acceptance of traditional chieftaincy titles by civil servants in Nigeria violates the law against discrimination since the same Nigerian government even runs and sponsors religious activities such as embarking on pilgrimages to foreign jurisdictions that are alien to our revered indigenous culture and tradition.

“Why is the Head of service himself attaching a religious title of ‘Alhaji’ to his name and several other top bureaucrats in government holding religious titles of knighthood but at the same time issuing out grossly discriminatory directive against activities that promote our indigenous Nigerian cultures such as chieftaincy titles conferments?” HURIWA, asked.

The group in a statement jointly endorsed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, reminded the Federal Government that section 42(1) of the constitution clearly provides that; “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject to.”

HURIWA faulted the second aspect of the Head of Service’ directive that permission of government be sort before acceptance of hereditary traditional titles by civil servants, since, according to the group, that amounts to unmitigated executive interference and unnecessary busy-body in the exercise of the constitutionally protected fundamental religious and cultural rights of Nigerians.

The rights group therefore urged the Nigerian Government “to withdraw this draconian and bad administrative directive which undermines the integrity of our indigenous cultures.”

According to HURIWA, “If government is so minded to ban the holding of any religious or cultural titles, which by all intents and purposes, is unconstitutional, it must also ban all Nigerians from embarking on religious pilgrimages to foreign countries and carrying the bogus foreign titles that go with such expensive ventures such as Jerusalem pilgrim (JP) or Alhaji as the case may be.”

•Photo shows Head of Service, Alhaji Buka Aji.

Source: News Express

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