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Published On: Wed, May 13th, 2015

Constitution Amendment: Senate Suspends Move to Override Jonathan

LAGOS MAY 13TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The senate on Tuesday rose from about two-hour executive session on Wednesday and announced the suspension of its planned process to override President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto on the Fourth Alteration Act 2015 which seeks to further amend the 1999 Constitution.
Senate President, David Mark, who addressed the chamber after the closed-door session, said the senators as lawmakers, would always abide by the law of the land, since the Supreme Court had asked the federal parliament to stay further action on the document.
Mark said, “We are law makers, we will not be law breakers. In fact we are responsible senior citizens who should not be seen to be breaking laws in one way or the other. However the executive should not take the National Assembly for granted any longer.”

The senators had on Tuesday vowed to begin the process of overriding the President’s veto today, by taking the first reading of the bill to adopt the gazette of the controversial amendment Bill.
It will be recalled that Jonathan had in a letter dated April 13, addressed to Senate President David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, announced his decision to reject the Constitution (Alteration) Bill 2015. He had cited perceived deliberate attempts by federal lawmakers to whittle down presidential powers and their failure to strictly adhere to constitutional provisions on the amendments to Section 9 of the constitution by observing four-fifths majority support in each chamber before it could amend it.
The president had further argued that the National Assembly only observed two-thirds majority support for the amendment instead of four-fifths stipulation in the constitution before amending the section. The amendment to the section strips the president of the power to sign an amendment bill before becoming effective.
Following the president’s letter, the Senate on April 15 demanded the return of the bill to the National Assembly by the president. The demand was the fallout of an allegation that the president had earlier signed the bill before he was prevailed upon by the AGF to withdraw his assent.
Suspecting that the National Assembly might move to override the president’s veto as a result of the demand, the federal government proceeded to the Supreme Court to stop the National Assembly from further carrying out any legislation on the amendment bill with the intention to render it handicapped.
The Supreme Court eventually ruled on the suit on May 7, asking the National Assembly to maintain the status quo ante on the amendment until the final determination of the suit. It also described the suit as incompetent, saying it should have been between the president and the National Assembly and not between the AGF and the National Assembly as the case had been. The apex court also queried the federal government’s counsel for not joining the state houses of assembly in the suit since they were also part of the amendment process.


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