The National Conference yesterday went into an abrupt adjournment for the week following the news of the death of Hajiya Maryamu Kutigi, the wife of the Chairman and retired Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi.
Aged 70, Hajiya Maryamu died at the National Hospital in Abuja at about 2 am yesterday and has already been buried at the Gudu cemetery, in line with Islamic rites.
The deceased was survived by her husband and children.
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. Akinyemi 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 wise counsel.
He 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 hospital.
Governors under the aegis of the Northern States Governors Forum also commiserated with Justice Kutigi, describing his wfe’s death, as national loss.
The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Niger State, Dr. Mua’azu Babangida Aliyu, expressed sadness over her demise, insisting she died at a time she would have given her husband physical and spiritual support now that he is handling a major national assignment.
The condolence message was contained in a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Aliyu, Israel Ebije.
The statement said: ”Let me express the pains of the Northern States Governors Forum over the sudden death of Hajiya Maryamu Kutigi. She died at the time her husband needed her most. For us at the forum, it is indeed a huge loss.
“We, however, pray that Allah (SWT) will grant her Jannatu Firdausi. It is also our prayers that Justice Kutigi will have the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, and we call on members of the on-going National Conference to rally round their bereaved Chairman to accomplish the national assignment before them”, the message said.
Before the adjournment yesterday, 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 would resume on Monday June 2 with deliberation on more reports of committees and adoption of recommendations contained in the reports.
Before the immediate adjournment of sitting yesterday, the 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 deputy chairman.
The Conference Assistant Secretary, Media and Communication, Mr. Akpandem James in a press statement recalled that “also slated for resolution on yesterday 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 (RECOM).
“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 crystalize 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.”