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Supreme Court Bars NASS From Further Amendment Of Constitution
The Supreme Court has barred the National Assembly from taking any further steps towards amending the 1999 constitution.
Delivering its Judgement on Thursday, a seven man panel of justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Mahmud Mohammed, directed members of the National Assembly to maintain the status quo on the matter until June 18 when further hearing on the matter would be entertained.
The federal government had dragged the legislature to the apex court seeking to stop it from carrying out any further action on the constitution amendment after President Jonathan withheld accent to the 1999 Constitution sent to him for approval.
Jonathan in separate letters to the Senate and House of Representatives read on the floor of the Senate said he would not give his approval because the provisions in the amendments did not meet the requirements of Section 9(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
The president in his letter noted that he was particularly bothered by some aspects of the amendment which sought to reduce some of the executive powers exercised by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The President itemized 12 key areas of concern in the proposed amendments which the executive was not comfortable with.
They include the non-compliance with the threshold specified in Section 9 (3) of the 1999 Constitution on amendments; the clause that alteration to constitution cannot be valid with mere voice votes unless supported by the votes of not less than four-fifths majority all members of National Assembly and two-thirds of all the 36 State Houses of Assembly, the right to free basic education and primary and maternal care services imposed on private institutions; and flagrant violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.
Others identified by the executive were the whittling down of the executive powers vested in the President by virtue of Section 5(1) of the 1999 Constitution and the 30 days allowed for presidential assent to bills.
The Senate had threatened thereafter to veto the president if he failed to approve the amendments before the end of thirty days.