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Constitution amendment: Senate okays 35 amendments for Buhari’s assent

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.Regrets some State Assemblies frustrating LG autonomy, other critical provisions

By Tunde Opalana

The Senate at its plenary on Tuesday expressed serious regrets that some State Houses of Assembly are frustrating the constitutional amendment for not forwarding their resolution on the Bills till date.

The upper chamber however directed the Clerk to the National Assembly to transmit the 35 Bills that have so far met the requirement of the provision of Section 9(2) of the Constitution to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent in line with the provisions of the Acts Authentication Act.

The State Houses of Assembly that are yet to forward their resolution on the amendment bills to the National Assembly include Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara.

Therefore, the Senate urged them to do so “in fulfillment of their constitutionally imposed legislative obligation to the Constitution amendment process”.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan in his remarks said Nigerians should know that the National Assembly has done its bit, adding that “Nigerians usually see us in the National Assembly as the problem and leave the State Houses of Assembly, which have crucial role to play”, as in constitutional amendment”.

In a motion on Passage of Constitution (Fifth) Alteration Bills, 2023 sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central) and co-sponsored by 66 senators, the Senate said that Section 9(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provides that an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution can be passed only when it is supported by 2/3 majority of members of the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and approved by 24 State Houses of Assembly.

It recalled that 68 (Sixty-Eight) Bills seeking to alter provisions of the Constitution were presented at the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday 23 February, 2022 for passage.

Recall also that the Senate and the House of Representatives approved 44 (Forty-Four) of the Bills without difference and were transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for their resolution on the 27th of March, 2022;

The Senate acknowledged that twenty-seven State Houses of Assembly – Abia, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi. Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross-River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Kaisina, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Rivers and Yobe, have forwarded their resolution on the Fifth Alteration Bills.

Convinced that 35 Constitution Alteration Bills have satisfied the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Constitution, for passage into law, having been approved by not less than 24 State Houses of Assembly, the Senate resolved that the CNA transmit them to President Buhari for his assent.

Among the 35 that have met the constitutional requirements are: Financial autonomy of State legislatures and State Judiciary, Provision for intervening events in the computation of timeline for the determination of pre-election petitions, election petitions and appeals therefrom.

Others are “devolution of powers (fingerprints, identification and criminal records, Correctional Services, Railways and National Grid System.

“Timeline for the presentation of appropriation bills, timeframe for the submission of the names of ministerial or commissioner nominees are also part of the 35 that have scaled through.

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Bill that suffered setback at state assemblies include Bills to Abrogate the State Joint Local Government Account and Provide for special Account into which shall be paid all Allocations due to Local Government Councils from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State; and for Related Matters “, “to establish Local Government as a Tier of Government and Guarantee their Democratic Existence, Tenure; and for Related Matters” and “to Instutionlalize Legislative Bureaucracy in the Constitution; and for Related Matters;

Other Bills are ones “to ensure Uniformity in the Retirement Age and pension Rights of Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of Records; and for Related Matters”, “to Impose the requirement of fair hearing in the process of Recommendation of Removal of Judicial Officers by the State Judicial Service Commission; and for Related Matters”, “to include Presiding Officers of the National Assembly in the Membership of the National Security Council; and for Related Matters”.

The rest are Bills “to Establish State Security Council; and for Related Matters”, “to specify the Timeframe for the conduct of Population Census; and for Related matters” and Bill “to Permit Public Servants to engage in Healthcare Education, Production and Services beyond Farming; and for Related Matters”.

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