Civil activists are supporting president Goodluck Jonathan in rejection of last minute constitutional changes that will among other things give immunity to senators and life long pensions. Civil activist Femi Falana yesterday rejected the constitutional amendments designed solely to safeguard the law makers’ interests.
Other activists also raised their voices in supprts of Goodlcuk Jonathan against the senators:
— Dr. Peregrino Brimah (@EveryNigerian) April 23, 2015
President Jonathan has sued the national assembly over these changes.
Jonathan Takes National Assembly to Supreme Court over Constitution Amendment Bill
The Executive Arm of the Federal Government on Wednesday went to the Supreme Court asking the court to declare as a null the passage of the proposed amendment of the constitution by the National Assembly.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, instituted the fresh suit with SC/214/2015 on behalf of the executive arm of government asking the court to nullify any attempt by the National Assembly to override the President’s veto powers.
In the suit, the executive arm argued that the bill was not passed by at least four-fifths majority of all members of each House of the National Assembly as stipulated in sections 48 and 49 of the Constitution.
The suit follows the crisis that had developed over President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to assent the fourth Alteration Bill of the Constitution. Instead, the President wrote to the National Assembly last week listing some grey areas that he said were contentious.
The National Assembly had threatened to override the President’s veto powers as it relates to the bill.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana has warned the National Assembly against passing the bill without looking critically at some of the arguments given by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Falana, who stated this in a statement on Wednesday, said if the National Assembly failed to review the grey areas as raised by the President before overriding his assent, it could result in legal issues that could be challenged.
Falana, who also criticised the refusal of President Jonathan to assent to the bill, recalled that the last alterations to the constitution sanctioned by the President in 2010 and 2011, were passed by the same two-thirds majority of the federal and state legislators recalling further how former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, challenged an attempt by the National Assembly to amend the constitution without recourse to the President.
Falana stated: “In 2010, the National Assembly had purportedly empowered itself to amend the Constitution without the assent of the President of the Republic.
“The action was challenged in the Federal High Court by Olisa Agbakoba SAN, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association. The court declared the amendment illegal and unconstitutional and proceeded to set it aside in toto.
“In view of the fundamental errors which have characterised the 4th Alteration to the Constitution, the National Assembly members should go back to the drawing table.
“They should have no difficulty in jettisoning the alteration of section 9 of the Constitution as it is the height of legislative dictatorship to amend the Constitution of a country without the assent of the President and the endorsement of the people via a referendum.
While the concern of the legislators for the rights of Nigerians to basic education and health is appreciated the inclusion of both rights in chapter four of the Constitution is unnecessary as both rights have been statutorily recognised.
“However, if the members of the National Assembly refuse to remove the objectionable provisions before overriding the veto of the President they would have engaged in a futile exercise which is likely to be challenged in a law court.
“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 parliament.” Source