19 April 2013

Nigeria: Constitution Amendment - We Reflected Wishes of Nigerians - Ihedioha

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Review of the Constitution, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, has said that views of Nigerians on issues have been reflected in the report of the peoples' public sessions presented to the House yesterday.

Presenting the report, Ihedioha said that it represented "the voice of the Nigerian people who have expressed their views on what changes they would like to see in any amendment being made in the Constitution."

The deputy speaker also said that the report was painstakingly collated, verified and its integrity could be fully assured.

Ihedioha noted that deliberations at the country-wide sessions last year were free, robust, and participatory, and stressed that Nigerians in the various constituencies spoke their minds without let or hindrance and that the ensuing report was devoid of any tinkering or manipulation.

He said, "This process may not be perfect, but I dare say, that it is the first time in the history of this country that Nigerians at the grassroots have been made part of the constitution review process in a practical and transparent manner.

"We promised Nigerians that we shall be transparent and accountable. Indeed we made a commitment to do things differently in our Legislative Agenda, unveiled at the beginning of the 7th House of Representatives. This public presentation is a fulfillment of this commitment and promise.

"We have responded as best as we can within the limits of the constitutional and legal framework to the demands of Nigerians for greater voice and involvement in the constitution amendment process."

Meanwhile, the report indicated that 205 out of the 360 federal constituencies requested for the creation of additional states in the country and rejected tenure elongation.

The collated results also reflected support for independent candidature but said no to state police. There was, however, no agreement on the number of states to be created as different constituencies had proposed different number of states.

Highlights of the report presented by the committee show that 245 constituencies voted against amending section 135 and 180 (2) of the 1999 constitution to create a single tenure of five, six and seven years for presidents and governors.

Another contentious issue contained in the report was the abolition of the state independent electoral commissions which 261 constituencies voted for, 95 voted against.

On the issue of immunity for the President, his vice and state governors and their deputies, 225 voted for the amendment of section 308 for immunity to cover only civil proceedings while they are in office.

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