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Senate passes 49 out of 68 constitution bills

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The Senate on Tuesday passed a total of 49 bills out of the 68 considered during voting on the Constitution Bills.

The bills were contained in report of the Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.

A total of 19 alteration bills failed to make passage during the voting exercise which lasted almost five hours during plenary.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan while setting the tone for voting on the bills, explained that only bills which enjoyed passage in both chambers would be transmitted to the State Houses of Assemblies for concurrence.

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According to him, any bill which fails to pass in the Senate or House of Representatives during voting automatically stands rejected by the National Assembly.

One of the bills passed by the 9th Assembly was a bill to empower the National Assembly and State Assemblies to summon the President and State Governors to answer questions bothering on security or any other issues on which the National and State Houses of Assembly have powers to make laws.

The bill seeks alteration to Section 67 of the Principal Act by inserting after subsection (3), a new subsection (4).

The new subsection (4) provides: “Nothing in this section shall preclude the National Assembly from summoning the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend a joint session of the National Assembly to answer questions on national security or any issue whatsoever, over which the National Assembly has powers to make laws”.

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The bill further seeks to alter Section 108 of the Principal Act to insert a new subsection (4) to provide: “Nothing in this section shall preclude the House of Assembly of the State from summoning the Governor of the State to attend a sitting of the House of Assembly to answer questions on securoty or on any issue whatsoever, over which the House of Assembly has powers to male laws.”

Out of a total of 93 registered Senators, 77 voted in favour of the bill to summon the President and Governors, 13 against and 1 lawmaker abstaining, bringing total votes to 91.

The chamber also approved a bill to include Presiding Officers on the membership of the National Security Council.

It also passed a bill to make it an offence, and to provide for the possible conviction of any person who refuses to honour the summons of the National Assembly or any of its committee.

The bill seeks to alter Section 129 of the Principal Act to insert after subsection (2), a new subsection (3).

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The new section provides: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, any person who after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House or the Committee in question, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to such punishment as shall be prescribed by a Act of the National Assembly.

The chamber, however, turned down a bill to provide for more seats for women in the National and State Houses of Assembly.

Also rejected were bills to alter Part I of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to include Value Added Tax on the Exclusive Legislative List; Removal of Transitional Law-making Powers of the Executive; to provide for Diaspora voting; to grant Mayoralty Status for the FCT; and appointment of Minister from the FCT.

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