National Assembly Passes Bills On Assembly, Judiciary, LGs Autonomy, Independent Candidacy

Wale Jagun

-Rejects more legislative seats for women, diasporas voting

National Assembly, Abuja.

The Senate and House of Representatives of the National Assembly on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, voted to amend the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Both houses, in their votes and approved amendments, granted financial autonomy to State Legislatures, Judiciary and the 774 Local Government Areas in the country.

The 109 Senators and 360 Representatives voted on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (Fifth Alteration) Bills, 2022, where clause by clause amendments were made on the floors of both Chambers.

A total of 68 Bills were proposed for amendments with the Senate passing a total of 49 bills, while 19 were rejected.

In the House of Representatives, 52 alteration bills carried the day while 16 suffered a setback.

Also approved for amendments were proposals to allow state governments generate, transmit and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid and  movement of railways and correctional services from the Exclusive to the Concurrent List.

Both Chambers also passed bills to empower the National Assembly and State Assemblies to summon the president and state governors to answer questions bothering on security issues and inclusion of presiding officers on the membership of the National Security Council.

Other amendments granted by the Senate and House of Representatives were independent candidacy in elections and the separation of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice.

In addition, both chambers also approved  bills that provide a minimum percentage for Women in Ministerial or Commissioner nominees. This, we gathered, was passed with the intervention of Mr Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and other representatives in the House of Representatives.

Also passed were Bills to institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution; Retirement age and pension rights of judicial officers of Superior Courts of Records; Bill to delete the reference to the provisions of the Criminal Code, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Act, Criminal Procedure Code or Evidence Act; Fair hearing in the process of recommendation of removal of judicial officers by the State Judicial Service Commission and Devolution of Power: to move Fingerprints, Identification and Criminal Records from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List among others

However, the federal lawmakers rejected bills to provide for more seats for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly; pension for presiding officers of the national and state legislatures, diaspora voting and inclusion of Value-Added Tax (VAT) in the Exclusive Legislative List.

Also rejected were overriding presidential veto; overriding Executive Veto in Respect of Money Bill – Rejected; procedure of Removing Presiding Officers of the Legislature; Establishment of Federal Revenue Court and the Revenue Court of a State; Bill to Strengthen the Judiciary for timely dispensation of justice – Rejected and Timelines for the determination of civil and criminal cases.

In addition, Bills on the Inclusion of Judges of the National Industrial Court in the composition of Election Tribunal and Expansion of the Scope of Citizenship by Registration were also rejected.

The amendments to the constitution approved by the two chambers of the National Assembly through votes yesterday (Tuesday) are expected to be sent to the 36 state assemblies for votes and approval.

Two – thirds of the State Assemblies are to pass each of the Bills with simple majority for the amendments to go through and subsequently requires the President assent for the constitution to be properly amended.

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