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Senate passes constitution alteration Bill

The Nigerian Senate has passed the fourth constitution alteration Bill, 2018 as presented by the National Assembly committee on the amendment of the 199 constitution led by Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekwerenmadu.

Sponsored by 50 Senators, the constitution alteration Bill was passed during Tuesday’s plenary session.

Senate also resolved that the twelve (12) Bills which have met the requirements of the provisions of Section 9 of the Constitution, be processed in line with the Acts Authentication Act and transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

According to the Senate, notwithstanding the resolution of some State Houses of Assembly on some of the bills, the action would enable the institutions of government prepare for immediate implementation of policies and programmes pursuant to the provisions.

Presenting the motion on behalf of the sponsors, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan said the Senate was aware of the provisions of Section 9 of the Constitution as amended in processing the alteration of the provision of the document.

Senator Lawan recalled that 33 Bills seeking to alter various provisions of the constitution were presented at the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 26 and Thursday, July 27, 2017.

The Senate approved 29 of the bills with the required 2/3 majority of members, the House of Representatives approved 21 of the bills with not less than 2/3 majority. The two Houses approved 17 of the bills without difference and were transmitted to the State Houses of Assembly for their resolution, while four were approved with amendment and have been committed to a conference committee for further action in line with the Senate and House of Representatives, he submitted.

The Senate leader acknowledged that 35 State Houses of Assembly namely, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara, have forwarded their resolution on most of the bills.

Those twelve (12) constitution alteration Bills as listed by the committee, that have satisfied the provisions of Section 9(2) of the constitution for their passage into law include Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bills No. 2 (Authorization of Expenditure in absence of Appropriation); No. 4 (Financial Autonomy of State legislatures); No. 8 (The Legislature); No. 9 (Political parties and Electoral Matters); No.15 (The Nigeria Police Force); No.16 (Restriction of Tenure of President and Governor); No. 20 (Submission from the Judiciary); and No. 21 (Determination of Pre-Election Matters).

Others are Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bills No. 22 (Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence); No. 24 (Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitutional Alteration); No. 27 (Reduction of Age for Election); and No. 28 (Time Line for the Presentation of Appropriation Bill).

In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, put the resolution into voice votes and it was unanimously approved by majority of Senators in attendance.

World Bank/IMF meeting

Meanwhile, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, is in Washington, United States of America, to attend this year’s Spring Meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He will also participate in the African Finance Forum, organised by the Corporate Council on Africa.

The forum is expected to bring together more than 100 project developers, financiers and African government representatives to address how the Fintech industry is transforming the financial sector and financing on the African continent.

The Senate President was accompanied by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim and his counterpart in the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru.

Helicopter

In another development, Senate on Tuesday summoned the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for explanation on alleged withdrawal of $462 million for purchase of helicopters from an American firm.

Also summoned on the matter are the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and her Defence counterpart, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali.

Senate’s resolution to invite the government officials was sequel to a Point-of-Order raised by Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu during the plenary session.

Senator Anyanwu said: I have it on good authority that in March, 2018, from the Federation Account, a sum of $462 million was withdrawn and paid for helicopters to an American firm. This is without the approval of the National Assembly. I know that at no time was there any request from this Senate for any such withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Account of the federation.

I want to find out if anything was done. I will suggest we invite the CBN Governor, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Defence to tell us how this money was withdrawn and paid into an American company without the approval of the Senate.

Section 80 (2 and 3) of the Nigerian Constitution stipulated that no monies shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by the Constitution.

No monies shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the federation other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund unless the issue of those monies have been authorised by the Act of the National Assembly, Senator Anyanwu added.

Senator Ekweremadu referred the matter to the Appropriation Committee and gave it one week to report back.

Source: Voice of Nigeria