Ek­w­ere­madu with­draws bill em­pow­er­ing Jonathan to change con­sti­tu­tion

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Tu­raki A. Has­san

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.

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