Ekweremadu withdraws bill empowering Jonathan to change constitution
Deputy Senate President and chairman of the senate committee on Constitution review Ike Ekweremadu yesterday withdrew the controversial report he had submitted last week.
The report contained proposal made by its committee on the review of the 1999 constitution to pave way for President Goodluck Jonathan to propose a new constitution out of the report of the ongoing national conference.
Shortly after the bill was tabled for consideration yesterday, Senator Ekweremadu told his colleagues that issues arose with the amendment of section 9 of the constitution and that the committee met on Tuesday night and decided to withdraw the clause in question.
Daily Trust gathered that the committee leadership had intensified lobbying of Senators last weekend but by Monday evening “it downed on them that we are determined to kill the bill because majority of Senators were not in support of it,” a Senator who does not want to be mentioned said.
Ruling on the application, Senate President David Mark said the committee decided to wisely withdraw the controversial issue having advised themselves that “it shows that the committee is sensitive not only to the feelings of Senators but also of Nigerians on the issue.”
Meanwhile, voting on the remaining clauses in the bill has been differed to another legislative day because many Senator were absent in the chamber according to Senator Mark.
The Senate President David Mark and most lawmakers who spoke last week accused the committee of surreptitiously inserting the clause from the back door as means legalize the national conference in spite of the fact that legislature had opposed its convocation stoutly.
The rejected amendment had sought yet another amendment to section 9 of the 1999 Constitution to make a fresh provision for the introduction of an entirely new constitution by the President.
Our correspondent reports that the Senate had in July last year amended section 9 of the 1999 Constitution, stipulating a new amendment procedure including a provision for a referendum to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, that proposal is yet to be taken to the House of Representatives when Ekweremadu’s committee came up with a new version last week.
Whereas section 9 (3B) of the 1999 Constitution precludes the parliament from initiating a proposal for an entirely new constitution, the bill passed by the Senate last July altered that, and empowered only the National Assembly to propose a new constitution.
The Ekweremadu committee recommended that clause 2 of the fourth amendment bill, which is still pending before the two Houses, be altered to empower the President to propose a new constitution, in anticipation of the outcome of the ongoing National Conference.
Jonathan had said that the outcome of the National Conference would be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration.