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Sunday, 23 December 2018

WHY BUHARI MAY NOT SIGN CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL – PRESIDENCY

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed an Executive Order to improve his administration’s fight against corruption.

The Presidency Sunday said that the Fourth Alteration bills to the 1999 Constitution that have been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari may not be assented to as the time for their signing has elapsed

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang who disclosed this in Abuja, stated that any bills not signed till date must have elapsed.

Matters, Senator Ita Enang who disclosed this in Abuja, stated that any bills not signed till date must have elapsed. He said that President Buhari by now would have communicated to the National Assembly on the bills that have not been signed and why they were not assented to. According to him, “Any one (bill) that the President has not signed as of today, and he must have written the National Assembly informing them, because the time allowed by law has elapsed. 

“It is no more available for signing. And I know that all (the bills) that were submitted, the President assented to some and sent the rest back to the National Assembly. “Any one that has not been assented to, the time constitutionally allowed has lapsed and the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must have been communicated.” 

Recall that the two chambers of the National Assembly had proposed 33 amendments to the constitution but they were able to mutually pass 17 of the bills which were later transmitted to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for approval in compliance with Section 9 of the constitution. 

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According to findings, 12 of the bills that secured the endorsement of the two chambers upon return from the states were transmitted the to President for his assent. However, Senator Enang said, “His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has assented to Four Acts amending Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. “1. Constitution (4th Alteration) Act, No. 4 Section 121(3) is amended by providing for direct funding of the Houses of Assembly of the states’ directly from the Consolidated Revenue fund of the state. “And also, the funding of the Judiciary in the states directly from the Consolidated Revenue fund of each state by paying directly to the head of the courts concerned. “This formally grants financial autonomy to the Legislature and the Judiciary in all the states of the Federation. “2. Constitution (4th Alteration) Act, No. 9. This Act amends 134, 179 and 225 of the Constitution. 



This, in Section 134 (4) and (5) extends the time from seven days to twenty within which the independent National Electoral Commission shall conduct election between the two leading candidates in a Presidential election where there is no outright winner in the first ballot. “And ditto Sections 179(4) and (5) in respect of Gubernatorial election, time is also extended from 7 to 21 days within which INEC shall conduct run-off election between the two leading gubernatorial candidates. “Section 225 is amended by inserting a new Section 225A to stipulate the conditions and process under which INEC may de-register political parties. “3. Constitution (4th Alteration ) Act, No. 16. This alters the provisions of the Constitution to disqualify a person who was sworn in as President or Governor to complete the term of an elected President or Governor from being elected to the same office for more than one term. “4. Constitution (4th Alteration) Act, No. 21. This Alteration amends Section 285 of the Constitution authorizing the court or tribunal to suspend Ruling on preliminary objection or interlocutory issue relating to jurisdiction and deliver same at the stage of final judgment. It inserts six NEW sub-sections, that is (9) – (14) (9) “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, every pre-election matter shall be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit. (10) A Court in every pre-election matter shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of filing of the suit. (11) An appeal from a decision in a pre-election matter shall be filed within 14 days from the date of delivery of the judgment appealed against. (12) An appeal from a decision of a Court in a pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing of the appeal. (13) An election tribunal or court shall not declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the election. (13) Definition of ‘pre-election matter.’ “These amendments brings to five, the number of Acts, that is amending the Constitution under President Muhammadu Buhari, the first being the”Not-Too-Young-To- Run” Act, 2018.

Alteration) Bill No 2 (Authorisation of Expenditure in Absence of Appropriation); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 4 (Financial Autonomy of State Legislatures); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 8 (The Legislature); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 9 (Political Parties and Electoral Matters); and Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 15 (The Nigeria Police Force). There were also Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 16 (Restriction of Tenure of President and Governor); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 20 (Submission from the Judiciary); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 21 (Determination of Pre-Election Matters); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 22 (Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 24 (Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitutional Alteration); Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 27 (Reduction of Age for Election); and the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill No 28 (Timeline for the Presentation of Appropriation Bill). Despite the position of the Presidency on the pending bills, the National Assembly said the legislature had not rested the issue of constitution amendment. Chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas hinted on the possibility of revisiting the Constitution Amendment bills next year (2019) since the tenure of the 8th Assembly would not terminate till June 9. He said though President Buhari had sent a number of the bills back to the National Assembly, there were others the President was yet to sign which have not been returned to the National Assembly. He said, “To be fair to the President, he signed more bills, compared to previous Presidents. He also has a record of giving reasons he declined assent. But, there are bills he hasn’t signed and they are very important too. “When we resume, we will look at those bills that have not been signed and see what we can do about them. “As for the constitution alteration bills specifically, we will take a firm decision on them because all we need is two-thirds majority to pass them. So, until we resume in January to take a firm decision.” Both the Senate and the House of Representatives spent at least N1billion between 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 on the fourth alteration of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

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