Reps set to inaugurate Constitution Review Committee, State Police, increased derivation, others top agenda

A constitutional role for traditional rulers, the creation of State Police, and the bills seeking to return the country to a parliamentary system of government top the constitutional amendment bills to be considered by the House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendment....READ FULL ARTICLE

The Committee headed by the Deputy Speaker of the House, with members drawn from all states of the Federation, will officially be inaugurated on Monday, February 26, 2024, to kick start the constitutional amendment process.

The bill to alter the constitution to provide for the creation of state Police which has passed a second reading in the House and has been referred to the constitutional amendment committee, is listed as among the over 40 bills so far received by the House Committee.

It was however observed that the majority of the bills are yet to pass through the second reading in the House, even though the bill to alter the educational qualification to contest certain political offices was withdrawn at the second reading made the list of bills to be considered.

Three parliamentary bills sponsored by Minority Leader of the House, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), and 59 others are part of the constitutional alteration bills listed by the committee.

The bills are those that seek to alter the constitution to review the mode of electing the state Governors, Deputy Governors, and the appointment of Commissioners of the various states.

The second bill seeks to alter the constitution to review the means of election into the offices of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Local Government Councils in Nigeria; and for related matters.

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The third parliamentary bill seeks to alter the Constitution to provide for the office of the Prime Minister as Head of Government and the office of President as Head of State and to provide for a framework for the mode of election to the said offices.

Also, the House committee will consider a bill to provide an advisory role for traditional rulers in the constitution in view of their importance in the maintenance of peace and security across the country.

As part of the constitutional amendment process, the House has also listed for consideration, a bill seeking the reform of the judiciary to transfer the powers of appointing and removing Judges of state High Courts to state governors.

Other judicial reform bills for consideration include the bill seeking to establish the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja and the Ecclesiastical Court of Appeal of the States.

In addition, the committee will also consider a bill that will ensure quick dispensation of criminal cases in courts by authorising the Justices of the Federal High Court, High Court of The Federal Capital Territory, and State High Courts to sit as Justices of The Federal High Court, High Court of The Federal Capital Territory and State High Courts respectively and conclude any criminal case pending before them upon their elevation to the Court of Appeal.

The alterations will also include setting time within which civil and criminal cases and matters are heard and determined at trial and appellate courts in order to eliminate unnecessary delay in justice administration and delivery.

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Also, one of the judicial reform bills before the committee sought to confer Jurisdiction on the Federal High Court to try offences arising from violations of the provisions of the Electoral Act and any other related act passed by the National Assembly.

Another bill before the committee is the alteration seeking to Increase the number of members of the Federal Civil Service Commission to provide for representation of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Constitution Review Committee will also consider an alteration that will include in the constitution inclusion of the Minister in charge of Finance, Budget and National Planning in the composition of the National Economic Council as well as moving water for domestic, commercial, industrial, irrigation, power and other uses to the Concurrent Legislative list.

One of the critical bills to be considered by the committee is the bill seeking an increase in the percentage of derivation fund of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from all natural resources and Value Added Tax (VAT) to not less than fifty percent (50%).

There is also the bill seeking to review the requirements that qualify a person to be elected as President and Vice-President as well as Governor and Deputy Governor of a State.

Another bill for consideration is the bill that will change the method of the emerging winner of the Presidential and governorship election to ensure that the winner of the elections must score more than half of the total vote rather than the current method of a simple majority.

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A bill to grant the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly power to summon the President and state governors to answer questions on issues of National Security or any matter whatsoever, over which the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly, have powers to make laws and for related matters which failed in the 9th Assembly is also slated for consideration.

The House will also consider a bill that will provide for an independence referendum for states to enforce their rights of self-determination under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as a bill that will make it constitutionally mandatory to include sign language among the languages used in conducting the business of the National Assembly.

Two bills, seeking to allow for more representation in the National Assembly for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and create a mayoral status for the FCT will also be considered even though one of the sponsors, Dachung Musa Bagos is no longer a member of the House.

Also scheduled for consideration by the Committee is a bill seeking to review the status of the Federal Capital Territory as regards the election of the President to put an end to the controversy that arose during the 2023 general election.

Another bill seeking to rotate the Presidency among the geopolitical zones and state governorship position among the Senatorial district as well as a bill that will strengthen transparency and compliance to the principles of Federal Character is also listed...READ FULL ARTICLE

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