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Constitution Review: Senate Set To Challenge S’Court Order

Posted: May 14, 2015 at 7:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
. Mark

. Mark

By Ignatius Okorocha,



Contrary to the initial statements credited to some Senators that the upper legislative chamber would override President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto on the fourth alterations to the amendment of 1999 constitution, the Senate on Wednesday decided not to confront the executive but to seek legal option.

Recall that the upper chamber of the National Assembly had at its plenary on Tuesday stood down an attempt to re-introduce the Bill for the alteration of the Constitution override the President’s veto.

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided, had on Tuesday invited all Senators to attend a mandatory meeting slated for Wednesday to take a final decision on the President’s action against the National Assembly on the amendment.

However, Senate at plenary on Wednesday went into a three hour closed door meeting at the end of which the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark simply announced that the parliament would not like to overheat the polity by engaging in an unnecessary face -off with the outgoing executive on the amendment.

“As we finished our discussion, I think it is proper for me because of the importance of the issue to make a very simple, straight forward unambiguous statement.

“We are lawmakers and we will not be law breakers. We are not just lawmakers, we are very senior responsible citizens and very senior lawmakers and this is the apex of lawmaking in this country.

“Therefore on the issue of the current Constitutional Review that is before the Supreme Court, we want to assure Nigerians that we will not break any law in this country.

“We would take appropriate action that would ensure that democracy survives, but I will also want to warn that we should not be taken for granted by the executives but once more let me assure Nigerians that as lawmakers, we will not be law breakers,” he noted.

Meanwhile, briefing the Senate Correspondents on the outcome of the executive session, leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba, said the committee on Constitution Review, having taken a critical look at the alterations to the constitution and legal action from the executive, decided to brief the plenary on the circumstances surrounding the Bill.

He however regretted that though the National Assembly has not been officially put on notice, based on Supreme Court’s the senate has resolved to vigorously challenge the court order which was made ex parte.

“We have legal option and the legal option is to vigorously challenge the order of the court, which was made exparte, it was made without us being put on notice. I believe we can get the court to quickly determine that and we intend to pursue that option. We should expect this legal challenge as soon as possible,” he explained.

On whether the Presidency has responded to the demand of the Senate for a return of the original document on the constitution amendment as passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, Ndoma Egba denied getting a response from the Presidency to that effect.

“That resolution has been communicated to the President and Commander in Chief and up till now we have not gotten back the original document.

“We have our suspicions why the original has not been returned, our suspicions is that it had been signed,” he noted.

He also refuted the allegation of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice that the National Assembly did not meet the requirement for amending a constitution, saying that the parliament met the constitutional requirement of four-fifth mandate for amending the constitution.

“It is not correct, our records are very clear, the votes and proceedings are there and we have gone through the records again and we certainly met the constitutional requirement of four-fifth. The Attorney-General who is alleging that we did not meet that constitutional requirement has not exhibited any document to show that we did not but from our records we clearly did,” he explained.

The Senate leader regretted that the executive had the opportunity to raise objections to some of the alterations made in the process of amending constitution at the zonal Public Hearings but fail to do that only to come at this crucial moment in the processing of assenting to the amendment.

“We had a retreat in Lagos, we had public hearing in Abuja, we had public hearings in the six geo-political zones, we had public hearing in 36 state capitals, we had public hearings in the 360 Federal Constituencies.

“The hearings were open to the public at large, including members of the executive; the executive was very strongly represented.

“It is at those hearings that you are supposed to highlight your reservations or your concerns about each of the amendments.

“They did not use any of those opportunities provided by each of these public hearings only for us at this point when the houses of assembly has passed the amendments and we are to conclude that we are suddenly confronted with this ambush. We think it is in bad faith and it is regrettable,” he noted.