By CHRIS EKEKE, Abuja
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said that agitations and clamour for restructuring in Nigeria can only be actualised through alteration and amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
Dogara stated this yesterday at a public hearing organised by the House ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 constitution to allow stakeholders make input on “a bill For an act to alter the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to reflect the proposals initiated by the judiciary (HB858).”
Dogara who said that the legislature will not constitute a stumbling block to the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians for genuine changes in the Constitution, explained that the process of amending the constitution by the 8th House of Representatives is in phases and piece meal adding that it is a continuous exercise as envisaged under
section 9 of the Constitution.
According to him, “Agitations for restructuring of the governance framework for Nigeria can only be done through alterations of the constitution.
“I wish to say, that the House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly is ready to do its part in terms of amending the constitution when consensuses have been reached on any matter by stakeholders and Nigerian citizens.
“Furthermore, we note that the age limit for various offices currently contained in the constitution is the minimum not maximum. The wisdom of raising the minimum ages for various offices should be appraised further to ensure that brilliant and exceptional persons are not shut out on grounds of age.
The speaker expressed satisfaction with the various recommendations geared towards reducing the time for litigation in our courts adding that every effort should be made to adopt and reflect them in the final amendments.
He observed that amendments sought with respect to the National Industrial Court is very critical as the 3rd Alteration Act apparently created ambiguities in the law that has tasked the ingenuity of lawyers and the Courts over the years since it was introduced.
The ad hoc committee is also considering a bill for an act to alter section 291 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to provide for uniform mandatory retirement age of 70 Years For All Judicial Officers (HB 858).
The third bill seeks to alter Sections 243 and 254f of the Constitution to provide that except otherwise stated in the
Constitution, Appeal shall lie from the decisions of the National Industrial Court to the Court of Appeal; and to remove the Repealed Criminal Procedure Code and the Repealed Criminal Procedure Act so that the current Act, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 shall apply to Criminal Proceedings in the Court (HB 863).
He urged stakeholders to also ensure that the purpose of entrenching the NIC as a superior Court of record with exclusive jurisdiction on labour related matters is not defeated so that the country does not return to the days of uncertainty on labour matters and further said that the 8th House of Representatives is faithful to the principles of
separation of powers and checks and balances which is enshrined in the constitution.