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Published On: Wed, Oct 15th, 2014

Reps uphold removal of immunity for President, govs

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nigeria_reps_in_first_sessionBy Umar Muhammad Puma and Ikechukwu Okaforadi.

Members of the House of Representatives yesterday approved the removal of immunity clause for President and governors in the new amendment to the 1999 Constitution, just as they equally approved life pension for the President or Deputy President of Senate and Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The 71 amendments approved by the lower house border on legislative immunity, local government autonomy, state creation, indigeneship and citizenship.

Some others are independent candidacy in elections, budgetary process, life pension for National Assembly heads and role for traditional rulers.

The lawmakers also backed the adoption of referendum for state creation. They, however, rejected the amendment of Section 9 to allow for a referendum in determining the fate of the National Conference recommendations.

Among the 261 house members who participated in the process, 252 members voted in favour of the amendments, eight voted against and one abstained.

A two-third vote (240 of the 360-members) is required to amend the constitution.

The report will be forwarded to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for their concurrence.

In other constitution amendments, house members also approved independent candidacy in elections in Nigeria.

A new amendment makes it mandatory for the president to address a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year.

The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, Nigerian Police, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, National Security Agencies have now been placed on a first line charge from Nigeria’s Consolidated Revenue Account.

The House members equally approved life pension for the President and Deputy President of the Senate as well as Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The life pension would be paid only if he/she was not impeached from office.

An alteration of Section 241 which inserts a new subsection (2A) bars Nigerian courts or tribunals from staying any proceeding on account of an interlocutory appeal.

House members also voted to include seven items to the concurrent legislative list, some of which are agriculture, railways and pensions.

Meanwhile, the failure of the Senate attendance to meet the two/third majority requirement yesterday stalled the on-going constitution amendment in the upper legislative chamber.

To this end, the Senate, which had scheduled the consideration of the report of its conference committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution for today, deferred the exercise to Tuesday next week.

The Constitution requires that for a decision to be taken by any chamber of the parliament, the lawmakers in the respective chamber must attain a two/third majority quorum, which in the case of Senate, is seventy two senators.

It could be recalled that the Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Review of 1999 constitution, Senator Ike Ekweremadu assured that the report of the committee will be transferred to State Houses of Assembly after Sallah.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that the lawmakers failed to meet the quorum because some of the opposition lawmakers attended declaration of interest for the 2015 Presidential election by an All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.

Some others also are attending the 131st International Parliamentary Union conference holding in Geneva, Switzerland, hence the number of the senators present at the yesterday plenary was not able to form the two/third quorum.


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