Constitution: Reps reject immunity for President, govs; okays LG autonomy

By The Rainbow

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to reject immunity for the President and state governors facing criminal charges.

By the new provision on immunity, the President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies will vacate office, if convicted of any criminal offence.

But the lawmakers voted in favour of local government autonomy, as part of 85 new clauses passed on Wednesday.

A total of 339 out of the 360 members of the House voted on Wednesday to pass the clauses.

Voting and collation of results ended at about 10.43pm.

On immunity, 306 members voted to remove it, 17 opposed it, while 14 abstained.

The House retained four years as the tenure of office of elected officials.

The lawmakers also voted overwhelmingly for the simplification of the process of state creation.

The result of the voting was announced by the Clerk of the House as directed by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal at 10.34pm.

As a result of the murmurs that accompanied the first result from some parts of the floor, the Speaker intervened by informing the lawmakers that the Clerk was not having the titles of the clauses in the result he was reading out.

The Speaker took it upon himself to read out the titles of the clauses before the Clerk announced the result.

Out of the 339 lawmakers that voted for council's autonomy, 293 voted yes, 39 voted no and seven abstained.

Similarly, 293 lawmakers voted to endorse autonomy for local governments, as against 39 who opposed it. Seven others abstained.

This development meant that the House took a different position on the issue, compared to the Senate, which rejected autonomy for the councils.

Lawmakers also scrapped State Independent Electoral Commissions and transferred the responsibility of conducting council polls to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Independent candidacy was also endorsed by the House, meaning that in future, persons who do not belong to any political party, can stand for elections as individuals.

A total of 313 lawmakers endorsed the provision, while eight opposed it. Twelve others abstained.

Like the Senate, the House retained the controversial proposal on life pension for the President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker.

A total of 284 lawmakers endorsed the provision, with only 18 opposing it. Thirty-six others abstained.

Other highlights included the transfer of health, housing, electricity and railways from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent List.

This implies that states can now make laws on these issues.

However, the issue of minimum wage and labour matters were retained in the Exclusive List.

The House adopted all the recommendations of its report on the Peoples' Public Sessions it conducted across the Federation on November 10, 2012.

The sessions were conducted by its Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review headed by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha.

Lawmakers had to resort to voting manually on Wednesday as attempts to use electronic voting system failed.

The much-hyped intervention by NigComsat to rescue the situation failed to work after more than three hours of trying.