Reps alter 71 clauses in 1999 Constitution, reject referendum for Confab report

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday amended 71 clauses of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, turning down a proposal that the recommendations of the recently concluded National Conference be subjected to a referendum, while approving that the call for the creation of more states should go through the process.

The House members also approved independent candidacy for electoral offices and life pension for former presiding officers of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

These decisions were taken when members of the House voted on the report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on the Review of the Constitution yesterday.
Among alterations approved by the House was that which makes it mandatory for the president to address a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year.

Out of the 261 lawmakers who participated in the constitution amendment voting process, 252 members voted aye for the amendments, 8 voted nay while one of them was undecided. A two-third vote, which is 240 of the 360-member House, is required to amend the constitution before it will be forwarded to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.

The 71 clauses amended by the House centered on: legislative immunity, local government autonomy, state creation, indigeneship and citizenship, independent candidacy in elections, budgetary process, life pension for National Assembly heads, role for traditional rulers, among others.

An alteration of Section 7, among others, puts a stop to revenue allocation from the federation account to local governments that are not democratically elected. By it, local government administrations also stand dissolved at the expiration of four years commencing from the date the members of council were sworn in.
While amending Section 59, House members also voted to bypass the president if he fails to sign a Bill presented to him within 30 days. The alteration reads, “Within seven days, the president of the Senate shall convene a joint sitting of the National Assembly to reconsider the Bill, and if passed by two-thirds majority of members of both houses at such joint sitting, the Bill shall become law and the assent of the president shall not be required.”

The House members, in other key constitutional amendments, approved independent candidacy in Nigeria’s elections and placed on a first-line charge from Nigeria’s Consolidated Revenue Account, the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Nigerian Police, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and national security agencies.

While they voted to include seven items in the concurrent legislative list, including agriculture, railways and pensions, the lawmakers went on to approve life pension for the presidents and deputy presidents of Senate and speakers and deputy speakers of the House of Representatives, provided that they were not impeached from office.

Meanwhile, an amendment of Section 241 which led to the insertion of a new sub-section (2A), bars Nigerian courts or tribunals from staying any proceeding on account of an interlocutory appeal.

– Daily Post

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