Written by Uchenna Awom and Andrew Oota:
Recommends independent candidature || The Senate Committee on Constitution Review formally presented its revised constitution on the Senate floor yesterday, rejecting the appointment of chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
This means it tampered with the much advocated recommendations of the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC), headed by Justice Muhammadu Lawal Uwais, which proposed that the chairman of the INEC should be recommended by the NJC and submitted to the president for onward transfer to the National Assembly.
It also recommended for the establishment of an Electoral Offences Tribunal.
The review committee, headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, also recommended that INEC and the National Assembly should be fully autonomous hence placing them on the first-line charge of the consolidated revenue fund. INEC and the National Assembly have, before now had their funding subjected to executive control.
The deputy Senate president laid two copies of the report on the Senate table yesterday, after months of deliberations by his committee. The first was the report of the committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, seeking to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and for other matters connected thereto, 2010.
The other was the report of the committee on the review of the 1999 constitution seeking to alter the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Sections 156 and 221) and for other matters connected thereto, 2010.
It could be recalled that the Joint Committee on Constitution Review set up by the National Assembly was dismantled following the disagreement between the Senate and members of the House of Representatives.
The disagreement affected the work of the joint committee adversely and, by extension, the review of the constitution by each of the chamber’s ad-hoc committees, hence the late submission of the report.
However, the report also indicated that INEC chairman and members of the board of the commission “shall not be a member of any political party.”
It also recommended the approval of independent candidates for subsequent elections, just as the report sought to amend Section 81 (3) of the 1999 Constitution which deals with expenses from the consolidated revenue. “The amount standing to the credit of INEC, NASS, Judiciary in the CRF shall be paid directly to the said bodies respectively; in the case of the Judiciary, such amount shall be paid to the NJC for disbursement to the heads of the courts established for the federation and the states under Section 6 of this Constitution,” it stated.
According to the recommendation, the National Assembly should also make laws and rules to ensure internal democracies with political parties, including making laws for the conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions.
The report also recommended that all election-related cases must be disposed of within 60 days of the date of filing such cases.
In the case of annulled elections, the report recommends that the eventual winner must have fresh tenure to start from the date of swearing-in. However, the committee did not tamper with the tenure of four years for executives at the federal and state level.
The committee recommended that all political parties must have their head offices in Abuja and each must always submit detailed annual statement and analysis of its sources of funds and other assets, together with a similar statement of expenditure in such form as the commission may require.
The committee recommended that elections to the office of president shall be held on a date not earlier than 210 days and 80 days before expiration of the term of the last holder of that office.
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