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Senate Votes On New Amendments Wednesday

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, June 03, (THEWILL) - Three months after debate, the Senate will on Wednesday vote to either pass or reject the proposed new amendments in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The upper chamber has already concluded debates on the revised document. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and Chairman of the Review Committee announced at plenary Tuesday that the Upper House will vote on the clauses Wednesday.

The bill essentially seeks to further alter the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and other matters connected therewith.

It among others, proposes an amendment to Section 9 which deals with how a new constitution could be processed.

Section 9 which 'is to make provision for the President, in addition to the National Assembly, to initiate the process of a new constitution' had generated controversy in the Upper House Most of the lawmakers opposed to it said the clause is a backdoor attempt at legitimising the National Conference through the National Assembly.

The highlights of the amendments as proposed by the committee are: 'Alteration of Section 68 and 109 to mandate the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Clerks of States Houses of Assembly to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission in writing seven days of the existence of a vacancy arising from death, resignation or defection of a member of the National Assembly or a member of the State House of Assembly respectively.

Alteration of Section 134 and 179 which aims to extend the time for conducting presidential and governorship re-run election from seven days to 21 days as contained in Clause 4 and 5. INEC is seeking for an extension of the seven days to 21 days after results have been announced.

The next is the empowerment of INEC to de-register political parties which fail to win presidential, governorship, chairmanship of a local government area council, or a seat in the National or States Assembly elections.

The conferment of exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court for the trial of offences arising from, pertaining to or connected to the violation of the provisions of the Electoral Act and any other election related act of the National Assembly.

According to the Committee, 'After our meeting with INEC, they came up with the suggestion that instead of setting up another bureaucracy ,we confer the Federal High Court with the powers to try election offences.

'To 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 Council of States. Today, the Senate President and the Speaker but the former Senate Presidents and Speakers are not. Under the Constitution, former Chief Justices are members of the Council of States in addition to the serving Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).