From Yakubu Mustapha, Minna
The Niger State stakeholders and House of Assembly has adopted 15 amendments alteration bills already carried out by the two National Assembly chambers to the 1999 constitution.
The adoption of the amendments was at the interface with “relevant stakeholders on the proposed constitution amendment” organized by the Niger State house of assembly held at the State Assembly chamber in Minna, yesterday.
Prominent among the amendments endorsed were: Autonomy for local government
councils, Independent candidacy, Immunity for legislators contributions on
the floor of the legislatures and during committee sittings as well as Removal of “force” from the Nigeria police force.
Consequently, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has opposed the amendment of the constitutional provision seeking to provide for the participation of Independent Candidates in the election process in Nigeria.
The INEC Head of legal Unit, Nasara Haruna Auta, who represented the commission at the public hearing, argued that independent candidature would undermine the existence of political parties in the country.
According to Auta, “It was the opinion of INEC that our democracy was too young for independent candidate in election process.”
However, INEC position was vehemently opposed by other stakeholders at the hearing with many arguing in favour of constitutional backing for independent candidates to contest election in the country.
They argued that constitutional provision for independent candidacy would check the excesses of political parties characterized by imposition of candidates at primaries.
Also, the amendment, bill seeking to remove the word “force” from the Nigeria Police Force received heated debate after the O/C legal of the Niger police command, DSP Jude argued against its removal insisting that the police is a force and not civil when it comes to fighting sophisticated criminals.
DSP Jude, speaking on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force, also opposed the constitutional provision recognizing the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, on grounds that it is contrary to the constitutional provision that established the Nigeria Police Force.
This was however dismissed by the Public Relations Officer of NSCDC in Niger State, Ibrahim Yahaya, who explained the differences in the duties of the police and Civil Defense, arguing that the roles were never at conflict.
Declaring the public hearing opened, the Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly, Honourable Ahmed Marafa Guni, said that 15 proposed amendment bills were transmitted to the Assembly, adding that the Assembly can only agree or disagree with the bills at this stage.
He explained that the Assembly was the first in the country to subject the proposed amendment bills to public scrutiny, and urged participants to give their candidate opinion in order to guide the Assembly in the yes or no vote at plenary.