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Published On: Wed, Feb 26th, 2020

Federal Character: Senate cautions Buhari against breach of Constitution

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By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

Senate has cautioned President Muhamnadu Buhari against breaching provisions of the Constitution with non constitution of full membership of the Federal Character Commission (FCC) since 2018.
It consequently urged President Buhari to immediately constitute the Commission as according to it, not to do so, amounts to a breach of the Act establishing the Federal Character Commission and the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Senate’s call for caution was sequel to a submission made to that effect by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe ( PDP Abia South), who on the strength of orders 42 and 52 of the upper legislative chamber, drew attention of the Senators to the matter.
Abaribe in the motion titled: “Urgent Need to Reconstitute the Federal Character Commission” argued that it was unconstitutional for the President not to have appointed a substantive chairman for the Commission since 2018 when tenure of the former Chairman lapsed, leading to emergence of an Acting Chairman steering the ship of the Commission since then.
He added that aside lack of substantive chairman, the commission also lacks membership of most of the expected Commissioners from the 36 States of the federation and the federal capital territory due to expiration of their tenures and none replacements via appointment by the President.
The Commission, he alleged, has since 2018, been under the headship of a sole administrator since 2018 which according to him runs contrary to its establishment Act and relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The motion reads “Notes that pursuant to Act No. 34 of (1996 and Section 153 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) provided For the establishment of the Federal Character Commission.
“Also Notes that under Act No.34 of 1996, LFN subsection 1, 2 & 3 stipulates the establishment. membership and tenure of office 0F the Chairman and members of the Commission.
“Aware that Section 3(1) of the Act states that the Chairman and members of the Commission shall hold office For a period of five years in the first instance and For a Further term of five years on such terms and conditions as may be specified in their letters of appointment.
“Further aware that Federal Character Commission body has lapsed since 2018 as against its Act.
“Observed that since 2018, Federal Character Commission has been run by an ACTING CHAIRMAN who has now become a sole administrator.
“Further observes, that no provisions of the Act or the Constitution stipulates the need For the office of a sole administrator or an Acting Chairman.
“Note, that the Federal Character Commission (FCC) has been a tool For unity, equitable Formula distribution and 900d governance of the Nation.
“Accordingly note that Failure to reconstitute the commission amounts to a constitutional breach of the act establishing the Federal Character Commission”.

In his remarks after the adoption of prayer of the motion, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said: “The FCC is one of those national tools that work to ensure equity, unity, fairness and Justice in terms of employment distribution across all the 36 states and the FCT.

“It is very important we have the full complement of the Commission in place and I believe that with this resolution, it will expedite action by the executive in reconstituting the membership of the Commission”.

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