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House Approves Amended Constitution For Gazetting

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ABUJA, July 27, (THEWILL) - At last, the first amendment Constitution Bill 2010 has become an Act of the National Assembly and has now taken effect as the House of Representatives approved the resolution submitted by the 36 State Houses of Assembly.

The Senate had earlier last week passed the amendment having adopted the resolutions from the 36 state Houses of Assembly.

The motion for the gazetting of the document was moved by the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the House Constitution Review Committee (HCRC), Hon. Usman Bayero Nafada, with 43 members of the committee. It was seconded by Hon. Jerry Manwe (PDP, Taraba).

Moving the motion, the Deputy Speaker recalled that since 1999, several attempts had been made to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He noted that the final transmission of the First Amendment Bill to the National Assembly of the resolution of the State Assemblies by the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures on July 16, 2010 was a historic occasion.

He expressed satisfaction with the first successful attempt to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 saying this has stood the present National Assembly out.

The House of Representatives today concluded the remaining formalities regarding the amendments made to the 1999 constitution declaring that the amendments had become effective.

Briefing newsmen after the plenary, Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Ita Enang, explained that with the conclusion of work on the exercise, the amendments had taken effect immediately.

"The amendments we can say takes effect from today, the 27th of July, 2010 because it is the day that we can say that both Chambers of the National Assembly have agreed.

So, as at today, we can say that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has effectively been amended.

He noted that the two chambers of the National Assembly would harmonize their differences on the Electoral Bill and pass it before proceeding on recess.

According to him, "What we now have to do is to work on the Electoral Act and the electoral act has to be in compliance with the provision of the constitution. So, in the next two to three days, we will adopt the harmonization of the Senate and House version on the Electoral Act."

Enang expressed that the argument that the amendment must be assented to by the President to become effective could destroy the effort that had been put into the amendment exercise so far.

"I am not contending Mr. President’s assent or no assent for now. I hold the opinion that this is a constitution amendment. It does not need the assent of the President. But if for the purpose of tidying up, we think that it is necessary to have the assent of the President, so be it so that it will avoid legal challenges," he explained.

A highlight of the amendments endorsed by the State Houses of Assembly include the amendment effected to the constitution to place the funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly on first line charge of the consolidated revenue fund. 29 State Houses of Assembly endorsed this amendment.

All 36 State Houses of Assembly except Bauchi and Gombe States endorsed the amendment that made it mandatory for the Vice President to commence acting as Acting President after 21 days of absence by the President.

All the State Assemblies however endorsed the amendment that insulated INEC from the control or approval of the President in making its rules or regulating its procedure.