- …Set to appoint harmonization committee
By Umar Muhammad Puma
Following the successful completion of voting on the constitutional review report, Deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Emeka Ihedioha yesterday declared that preparation for the 2015 general elections will not affect the ongoing amendment of the 1999 constitution by the National Assembly.
The deputy speaker, who doubles as the chairman House Committee on the Review of the Constitution (HCRC) said a harmonization committee to meet with the Senate would be constituted when the House resumes plenary. He said both chambers of the National Assembly were committed to delivering the constitution amendment before the elections.
“The House Committee on Constitution Amendment and indeed the entire House of Representatives has carried out its assignment objectively with the interest of the Nigerian people at heart. The House carried out alterations on 71 Sections of the Constitution”, he said.
The House amended Section 315(5) of the Constitution and Section 19 of the National Youth Service Corps Act to insure every corps members.
Ihedioha said, “The House voted by 300 for, 2 against and none abstention to mandate the National Youth Service Corps to insure every corps member against loss of life or serious injury incurred or occasioned while performing official duty or while traveling, seven days preceding the date of commencement of the service period or seven days after the end of the service period, from the place of residence or mobilization to the place of deployment and vice versa.
“It also extended the coverage of the Public Officers Protection Act to every corps member and any other person employed under any undertaking or project for the duration of this service”, he stated.
The House of Representatives has prescribed tough punitive measures against rigging and other electoral offences in future elections in the country.
The House had voted 317 for, with 2 against and 19 in abstention for an Electoral Offences Commission to carry out sanctions against electoral fraud, a major hindrance to an entrenched democracy in Nigeria.
The overwhelming vote of the House is for an amended section 153 of the constitution. It awaits harmonisation with the Senate and at least 24 State Houses of Assembly, before it makes it to the Constitution.
The deputy speaker noted that the particular section on electoral offences was contentious, but the House summoned courage to amend it for the benefit of future elections.
“The House voted by 317 for, 2 against and 19 abstentions to establish an Electoral Offences Commission as one of the federal bodies in the Constitution. This is a bold attempt by the House to tackle the hydra headed problem of electoral integrity and ensure effective sanctions for electoral malpractices”, he said.
On the process, the deputy speaker said “Ours was a transparent process, which involved all segments of the country, including market women”, he said.
He said “It is well known fact that the process adopted by the House to alter the Constitution, has been very painstaking and methodical. It is perhaps the most inclusive and consultative process ever
undertaken by the House of Representatives”.
It will be recalled that the constitution review commenced in earnest when the committee held the Peoples Public Sessions all over the country on November 10, 2012.
On 24th July, 2013, the House voted on the various sections proposed for amendments and taken at the Peoples Public Sessions. On Thursday January 30, 2014, the House also voted to alter more sections.