- Says process should be declared illegal
Federal Government has sued the National Assembly before the Supreme Court over the lawmakers’ alleged breach of due process in their amendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The suit was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, through Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN.
Adoke told the apex court that due process was not followed by NASS during its amendment of the Constitution.
In the suit filed on April 20, 2015 with No SC /214/2015, the Federal Government asked the Supreme Court to determine whether the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999
(hereinafter referred to as the Constitution) by the defendant through sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Act 2015 (hereinafter referred to as The Fourth Alteration Act 2015) which purportedly altered sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174 and 211 of the Constitution without compliance with the requirements of section 9(3) of the Constitution is unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null and void.
It also prayed for a declaration that the proposed amendment to the Constitution through sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 which purportedly altered sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174 and 211 of the Constitution and passed by the defendant without complying with the mandatory requirement of section 9(3) and (4) of the said Constitution stipulating passage by at least four-fifths majority of all members of each House specified in sections 48 and 49 of the Constitution is unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
In the affidavit in support of the case deposed to by one Theophilus Okwute, a lawyer in the Chambers of Messrs Bayo Ojo & Co, the Federal Government argued that the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 was not passed with the mandatory requirement of four-fifths majority of members of the defendant and the mandatory due processes provided for under the relevant sections of the extant Constitution as amended (hereinafter referred to as the Constitution).
Adoke said the defendant was making moves, with the tacit consent of all the State Houses of Assembly to employ certain provisions of the Constitution to now pass the purported Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 into Law.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.
Falana warns NASS against overriding President’s veto
Apparently unaware that the government has taken the matter to court, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday cautioned the National Assembly against passing the 4th Alteration of the Constitution without addressing some of the issues raised by President Goodluck Jonathan for refusing to assent to it.
In a statement he issued yesterday, Falana said that if the National Assembly failed to remove the “objectionable provisions” in the proposed amendment before venturing to override the President’s assent, the whole exercise could amount to a futile effort as it would likely be challenged in court.
He however faulted President Jonathan’s grounds for not assenting to the Amendment Bill, especially the one anchored on the lawmakers’ failure to pass it by the votes of four-fifths of the National Assembly and approved by the resolution of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the states of the federation.
Falana reminded Jonathan that the last alterations of the constitution assented to by him were passed by the two-thirds majority of the federal and state legislators and signed into law by him in 2010 and 2011.
He recalled that in 2010, an attempt by the National Assembly to empower itself to amend the constitution without the President’s assent was successfully challenged by former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Olisa Agbakoba.
He insisted that the National Assembly acted illegally in amending sections 8, 9 of the Constitution without a resolution backed by four-fifths majority of the members in that regard.
While he lauded some of the provisions proposed by the legislators in the amendment bill, he faulted life pension for former leaders of the National Assembly.
He said: “Apart from the serious observations raised by the President, some of the provisions of the Amendment completely negate national interests.
“Whereas majority of Nigerians have consistently demanded for the removal of immunity clause from the Constitution, the amendment seeks to confer immunity on legislators in addition to the heads of the executive arm of government.
“Another objectionable proposition in the 4th amendment is the provision of pension for life for former leaders of the National Assembly.
“Indeed, one of the former speakers of the House of Representatives who will be a beneficiary of the largesse spent a few months in office and resigned for fear of impeachment.
“Another retired speaker who served for less than four years is barely 40 years old. The National Assembly should justify why Nigerians should pay pension for life to such legislators for rendering part time service in the legislature,” he said.