House To Complete Work On Constitution Amendment Next Week
ABUJA, Oct 21, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives today announced its decision to conclude work on the second amendment to the first Constitution alteration Act next week in order to give the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] enabling legislation to prepare for 2011 general elections. The House took this decision after successfully passing for second reading, the proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution and Act No. 5 2010. Deputy Speaker, Hon. Bayero Usman Nafada who presided over today’s session said in view of the limited period at hand, the House Special Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution would hold a public hearing on the proposed amendment next Monday. He explained that the report of the review committee on the Bill would be laid on the floor on Tuesday while voting would be conducted on Wednesday, the 27th of October. It is expected that if the amendment is supported by not less than 2/3 majority of members of the National Assembly and endorsed by the same fraction of the 36 state Houses of Assembly, INEC would now commence the general elections in April 2011. The first amendment gives INEC powers to conduct elections to the office of the president, governors of states and other political offices within 150 days, and not later than 120 days to the handover date. It was based on this provision that INEC had earlier drawn out a timetable scheduling elections for January 2011. The Bill seeks to alter section 5 of the First Alteration Act in paragraph (b) by substituting “one hundred and fifty days and not later than one hundred and twenty days and replacing it with “ninety days and not later than thirty days.” Other sections proposed for alterations are sections 5(b), 10(b), 11(b) and 17(b) of the first alteration Act, by substituting 90 and 30 days for the 150 and 120 days respectively across the affected sections, as against the 150 and 120 days in the principal Act. The House also resolved to do a thorough work on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act 2010 in spite of the Senate’s decision on the Bill.
Recalled that the Senate had on Wednesday thrown out the bill explaining that the amendments were not in consonance with the spirit of true democratic practice. Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh said the House would take a critical look at the Bill and would not allow the decision of the Senate to affect its assignment. Briefing newsmen after today’s plenary; Eyiboh restated the commitment of the House to abide by its resolution a week ago to take over the Ogun State House of Assembly if the Inspector General of Police fails to open the Assembly Complex for Speaker Tunji Egbetokun and his colleagues to exercise their constitutional responsibilities. Eseme reiterated that the House resolution has not been vacated and would still be applied if sanity does not return to the Ogun Assembly. According to him, the House had the constitutional powers to assume the responsibility of Ogun State House of Assembly and would not hesitate to do so if becomes necessary. The House had last week given the Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim a seven day ultimatum to open up the state House of Assembly Complex and provide security for the lawmakers to continue with their job. The House also resolved to take over the functions of the lawmakers should the IGP fail to comply. The ultimatum expired yesterday.