Following a report by the Punch Newspapers to the effect that President Buhari “has named an indigene of Abonnema [sic] local government area of Rivers State Mrs.Opunimi Akinkugbe as an Ambassadorial nominee for Ondo State”, a one -time Attorney- General and Secretary to Government in Rivers State , Mrs Aleruchi Cookey-Gam has decried what she calls the “discrimination against Married women ‘ saying it “should not be accepted or encouraged”.
Speaking further on the vexatious issue Mrs.Cookey-Gam said “Often times, women become stateless once they are married. Their state of origin asserts that she has adopted her husband’s state while her husband’s state refuses to recognise her as an indigene. Mrs Nimi Akinkugbe is an indigene of Ondo State as she has been married to Mr Yinka Akinkugbe an indigene of Ondo State for well over 30 years and they are blessed with three children.”
“Nimi is eminently qualified intellectually sound, and is well exposed and capable. Nimi’s name was certainly recommended and submitted by officials of Government to the Federal Government. President Muhammadu Buhari has in exercise of his powers appointed Nimi as a Non-Career Ambassador Designate and forwarded her name to the Senate for confirmation.
Ondo State should be proud of her.”
“Only recently Governor Hope Uzodinma swore in Justice Ijeoma Agugua as chief judge of Imo State. The new chief judge is from Anambra State by birth and married to a man from Imo State. Married Women who excel should be celebrated and appreciated.”
Women’s rights have been trampled upon over the years. It is disheartening and regrettable that the notes of discontent and resentment is in fact emanating from Youth groups such as Chairman, Ondo Youth Coalition, and the President, Yoruba Afenifere Youth Organization of Nigeria.”
Using the law to back her position ,the erudite lawyer said “Section 15 of the 1999 Constitution provides:
- 1. The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. 2. Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited. 3. For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to: … c. encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties; and … 4. The State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.
Section 42 further provides:
- 1. 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, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or … 2. No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth. 3. Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes restrictions with respect to the appointment of any person to any office under the State or as a member of the armed forces of the Federation or member of the Nigeria Police Forces or to an office in the service of a body, corporate established directly by any law in force in Nigeria.
She concluded by telling Sisi Port Harcourt that “Nimi Akinkugbe should not be discriminated against as she is an indigene of Ondo State”.
“We should not allow the discrimination playing out in Cross Rivers State in the appointment of the Chief Judge repeat itself in Ondo State in respect of this Ambassadorial appointment .”We recall that Hon Justice Ikpeme (an indigene of Akwa Ibom State) married to an indigene of Cross Rivers State is the most senior and eminently qualified but is being discriminated against”