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Published On: Fri, Jul 5th, 2013

Constitution Review: SIEC to Go, President, VP, Governors to Lose Immunity

Deputy Speaker, House of Rep, Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha

LAGOS JULY 5TH (URHOBOTODAY) – If the proposal by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution is anything to go by, the state independent electoral commission (SIEC’s) would be scrapped when the impending amended constitution becomes operational.
Similarly, the President, vice president, governors and deputy governors may lose their immunity even as the House committee has granted fiscal autonomy to local governments and abrogated the state joint Local Government accounts.

These recommendations are part of the report of the constitution review committee presented Thursday by the chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, saying the report was a collation of the views and opinions of Nigerians at the Peoples Public Sessions and the 25 bills referred to it by the House.
He said the committee held retreats and organised a Peoples public session, which was akin to a sort of national referendum, approximating the often cited demand for a sovereign national conference by a vocal section of the Nigerian elite.
Explaining further, the chairman, who is also the deputy speaker said the team of experts carefully analysed the memoranda and sifted from them most pressing demands by Nigerians. He added that these issues were formulated into 43 item template of issues, which the committee put before Nigerians during the public sessions held simultaneously in all the 360 federal constituencies on November 10, 2012.
The committee, in its report, did not tinker with the four-year renewable tenure as against the six-year single term recommended by their Senate counterpart.
The committee amended section 308 by removing “the immunity from prosecution from criminal offences for persons occupying the position of president, vice president, governor and deputy governor, and to stem impunity in governance.”
Also amended by the committee is section 9, which empowers the president to assent to the amended constitution before it becomes law.
Hence, “the committee came to the conclusion that the rigorous provisions for the alteration of the constitution by members of the National Assembly and the participation of the 36 state Houses of Assembly represented such adequate participation of Nigerians and that assent of the president negated the principle contained therein.”
Other amendments effected by the 53-member committee include the institution of full Local Government autonomy in the constitution and abrogation of the state joint Local Government account, the abrogation of the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), thereby empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct Local Government elections.
The committee also included a new section in the constitution creating “a new office of the Accountant General of the Federation and Accountant General of the Federal Government to ensure that persons are appointed into these two separate offices for professional management of resources.”

Similarly, the committee also put the offices of Attorney General of the Federation, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Auditor General of the Federation on first line charge of the consolidated revenue fund of the federation “in order to entrench the independence of the offices and insulate them from political control.”
On the issue of budget, the committee stipulated that budgets be submitted by the executive for approval not later than 90 days before the expiration of the fiscal year.
The committee also removed force from the ‘Nigeria Police Force’ to read ‘Nigeria Police’, approved independent candidature, and defined roles for traditional rulers. It however noted that none of the agitations for creation of states met the stipulated requirements.
Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in receiving the report announced that the report would be considered before the lawmakers proceed on annual vacation.

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