NIGERIA: Senate Votes on Fresh Constitution Amendments Today

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The Senate will today carry out its last voting on the review of the 1999 Constitution as the parliament votes on the report of its Committee on Constitution Review on issues bordering on amendment to Electoral Act 2010.
Although the Senate had concluded voting on constitution review in July 2013, subsequent requests for amendments to some sections of the constitution by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prompted this fresh voting.
The outcome of the voting will go a long way in influencing the ongoing amendments to the Electoral Act. INEC had made the request in view of an observation that some provisions of the Act would not be implementable unless the constitution is amended to authorise them.
THISDAY gathered that the amendments in question include INEC’s powers to issue duplicate voter cards before election, determine voting procedure, organise debate for all candidates contesting election into the office of president, conduct general election six months before the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent and conducting bye-elections only twice a year.
The committee also proposed amendments to Sections 68 and 109 with a view to mandating the Clerk of the National Assembly as well as clerks of states’ legislatures to notify INEC in writing within seven days of the existence of a vacancy arising from death, resignation or defection of a member of the National Assembly or House of Assembly.
It also proposed amendments to Sections 134 and 179 of the constitution seeking to extend the time of the conduct of presidential and governorship run-off elections from seven to 21 days as contained in Clauses 4 and 5. INEC had requested for extension of the period from seven to 21 days after announcement of original election results.
The committee also seeks to empower INEC to de-register political parties which fail to win elections from local government to presidential level and as also confer exclusive jurisdiction on “the Federal High Court to try offences arising from, pertaining to or connected to the violation of the Electoral Act and any other election related act of the National Assembly.”
The amendments will also alter the Third Schedule of the Constitution in Clause 8 to include former Senate presidents and speakers of the House of Representatives as members of the National Council of States.
Meanwhile, the Senate has confirmed the appointments of Hassan Bashir (Bauchi) and Olanrewaju Fayemi (Ekiti) as members of National Population Commission (NPC).
It also confirmed the appointments of Prof. Chibuike Uche, Dr. Adedoyin Salami, Dr. Shehu Yahaya and Abdul-Ganiyu Garba as members of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Speaking on confirmation of NPC members, Mark said: “Population is a very serious issue in this country and I believe that their appointments would bring something on board so that we know our true figures.
“Every time we talk about statistics in this country, depending on who you are talking to, we don’t appear to have the accurate figure.
I hope that they would help to bring something on board so that we can know our true population in this country.”
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