FACTSHEET The 15 Constitution Amendment Bills Approved by the 8th National Assembly and Transmitted to States for Voting and Adoption

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1 DECEMBER 2017 REVIEW OF RELEVANT INFORMATION ON NIGERIA S DEMOCRACY FACTSHEET The 15 Constitution Amendment Bills Approved by the 8th National Assembly and Transmitted to States for Voting and Adoption This Factsheet contains summaries of provisions of the fifteen (15) Constitution Alteration Bills passed by the 8th National Assembly in July, 2017 and have now been transmitted to States for voting and adoption in line with section 9(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). S/N Bill No./ Name Highlights/Objectives Comments 1. Constitution No. 2) Act, 2017 Authorisation of Expenditure (1) 2. Constitution Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration, No. 4) Act 2017 Financial Autonomy for State Legislatures 3. Constitution No. 5) Act, 2017 Distributable Pool Account This Bill reduces the maximum period that a President or Governor may authorise the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from six months to three months. The Bill seeks to encourage early presentation and passage of Appropriation Bills at the Federal and State level. This Bill seeks to provide for the funding of the Houses of Assembly of States directly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State. This Bill seeks to nullify State Joint Local Government Accounts and empower each Local Government Council to maintain a special account. The provision is an attempt to cure the recurrent problem of late budget presentation and passage. This amendment corresponds to an existing provision for the National Assembly under section 81(3) of current provisions. The Bill seeks to insulate the Legislature from external interferences that might jeopardise its independence. The proposed amendment expands on a similar bill adopted by the 7th Assembly.

2 3. (Contd) 4 Constitution No. 6) Act, 2017 Local Government This special account called Local Government Allocation Account will contain all allocations due to the Local Government Council and will be funded from the Federation Account and the Government of the State. The Bill also seeks to make provisions for savings in the Federation Account as it mandates ten per cent of any amount paid in the Federation Account to be deducted and saved in a separate account prior to distribution to respective levels of government. The House of Assembly of each State is given powers to prescribe the portion of money allocated to its State and Local Government Council from the Federation Account for payment of salaries of primary school teachers and such other purposes as it may determine. This Bill seeks to strengthen local government administration in Nigeria by guaranteeing a system of local government by democratically elected local government councils under the Constitution. It also recognises a democratically elected local government council as a tier of Government in Nigeria with executive and legislative arms. The House of Assembly of every State shall provide for the establishment, election, structure, composition, finance and functions of such Councils. Local Government Councils shall stand dissolved at the expiration of three years, commencing from the date, the members of the Council were sworn in. It is commendable that one of its clauses seeks to ensure the payment of salaries of primary school teachers in States. However, the added the added omnibus clause that says and such other purposes as it may determine is too wide and would have been better drafted to read and for related matters so as to prevent incidences of abuse. It is also laudable that the Bill seeks to inspire a savings culture. The amendment addresses citizens needs by recognising the position of local governments as the third tier in the Federation. The Bill also seeks to delete section 7(6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which provides for the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly to make provisions for statutory allocations of public revenue to local governments. This is logical in light of the proposal under Constitution Republic of (Fourth Alteration, No 5) Act, 2017 that provides for a Local Government Allocation Account funded from the Federation Account and from the Government of the State. 2

3 4 (Contd) 5. Constitution No. 8) Act, 2017 The Legislature 6 Constitution No.9) Act, 2017 Political Parties and Electoral Matters There is a provision for independent candidates in local government council elections. This Bill seeks to prevent civil and criminal proceedings from being instituted against a member of a legislative house in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or Committee proceedings. It also seeks to institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution by providing for a National Assembly Service Commission. This increases the time frame for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct byeelections in default of a candidate being duly elected in Presidential and Governorship elections from 7 days to 21 days. Provision for a Local Government Council tenure with a four year term would have been more consistent with other elections in Nigeria. It is noteworthy that legislators already have immunity in respect of words spoken at plenary or at Committee proceedings under the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, However, it has been argued that that the amendments would be better guaranteed under the Constitution as the grund norm of the land. It is also noteworthy that a National Assembly Service Commission already exists, however it is not a constitutionally established body. This provision, in line with the principle of equality of the three arms, seeks to include the Commission in the Constitution similar to the Federal Civil Service Commission and Judicial Service Commission for the executive and judiciary arms respectively. The amendment will give INEC more time to plan the logistics of a bye-election. The Bill further subjects political parties to stringent conditions. 3

4 6 (Contd) 7 Constitution No. 14) Act 2017 Independent Candidature It also provide grounds for INEC to de-register political parties that breach any of the grounds for registration or fail to win either twenty five per cent of votes in a State or Local Government or at least one ward in a Chairmanship election or seat in the National Assembly, State House of Assembly or Councillorship election. The Bill allows for independent candidacy in Presidential, Governorship, National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly elections. The requirements for the nomination of an independent candidate shall be subject to an Act of the National Assembly. The bill is commendable, as it will expand on Nigeria s political space by providing a platform outside political parties, for persons to participate and contest elections. 8 Constitution Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 15) Act, 2017 The Nigeria Police Force This Bill seeks to change the name of the police from Nigeria Police Force to Nigeria Police to reflect their core mandate of providing civil services. The alteration removes the word Force from the nomenclature of the Nigeria Police to encourage current efforts by the Nigeria Police to redeem its image. 9. Constitution Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 16) Act, 2017 Restriction on Tenure of the President and Governor This Bill seeks to disqualify a person who was sworn-in as President or Governor to complete the term of the elected President or Governor from being elected to the same office for more than a single term. The essence of this amendment is to limit the term of any President or Governor to two terms irrespective of whether the President or Governor was elected from the very beginning or took over from a predecessor to complete an already running tenure. This proposal is a response to the controversy and arguments that occurred when former President Jonathan took over and completed late President Yar adua s tenure. 4

5 10. Constitution Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 20) Act, 2017 Submissions from the Judiciary This Bill makes far-reaching provisions for the judiciary that will expedite the dispensation of justice and reduce the backlog of cases. The Bill provides for the disposition of an application for leave to appeal by three Justices in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, seeks to increase the composition of the Court of Appeal from not less than 49 Justices to not less than one hundred Justices and also provides for not less than twelve justices versed in industrial relations and employment matters in the Court of Appeal. However, extant provisions for 3 Justices learned in Islamic Personal Law and Customary law in the composition of the Court of Appeal or as prescribed by the National Assembly still remain. The Bill seeks to aid the administration of the Courts and justice delivery. 11 Constitution No. 21) Act 2017 Determination of Pre-Election Matters The Bill also addresses pension rights of retired judicial officers by reducing the period required to activate the claim of pension from fifteen years to ten years. This Bill seeks to provide a time frame for the determination of preelection and related matters. Under the Bill, every pre-election matter must be filed no later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit. It also gives 14 days to appeal a decision given in a pre-election matter from the date of delivery of judgment appealed against. The Bill also contains a provision preventing any election tribunal or court from declaring any person a winner at an election where such person has not fully participated in all stages of the election. The Bill seeks to encourage the speedy adjudication of election petitions. However, enshrining the provision preventing any election tribunal or court from declaring any person a winner at an election where such person has not fully participated in all stages of the election may be controversial. 5

6 12 Constitution No. 22) Act, 2017 Consequential Amendment on Civil Defence The Bill seeks to reflect the establishment and core functions of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the provisions of 1999 Constitution (as amended) The Bill includes the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps as a security agency under the Constitution. 13. Constitution No. 24) Act, 2017 Procedure for Overriding Presidential Veto in Constitution Alteration This Bill provides for the procedure for passing a Constitution Alteration Bill where the President withholds assent. In this case, the Bill shall become law if it is voted upon by a twothirds majority by each House of the National Assembly. The amendment provides for the alteration of the Constitution without Presidential assent and seeks to prevent a deadlock where the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly have passed amendments to the Constitution. This seeks to prevent a recurrence of the predicament that faced the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill in the 7th Assembly. 14 Constitution No. 27) Act, 2017 Reduction of Age for Elective Offices This Bill reduces the age qualification of the office of the President and membership of the House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly. It reduces the qualifying age for election into the House of Assembly from 30 years to 25 years and to a State House of Assembly from 30 years to 25 years. The Bill encourages the political participation of young persons in elections. It appears that the reduction of the qualifying age for election into the Senate was overlooked in the present alteration exercise. This can be addressed in a future Alteration exercise. The qualifying age for contesting the office of the President is also reduced from forty to thirty -five years. 6

7 15 Constitution No. 28) Act, 2017 Authorisation of Expenditure (2) This Bill specifies for the President or Governor of a State to present an Appropriation Bill before the National Assembly or State House of Assembly no later than 90 days to the end of a financial year respectively. It also mandates the National Assembly and State House of Assembly to pass the Appropriation Bill before the commencement of the next financial year. The Bill is commendable as it seeks to encourage early budget presentation and passage by the Executive and Legislative arms respectively. 7

8 Plot 1059 Adamu Aliero Crescent, off Edwin Clark Crescent, Guzape District, Abuja Website: * *Phone: About PLAC Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) is a non-governmental organization committed to strengthening democratic governance and citizens participation in Nigeria. PLAC works to enhance citizens engagement with state institutions, and to promote transparency and accountability in policy and decision-making processes. The main focus of PLAC s intervention in the democratic governance process is on building the capacity of the legislature and reforming the electoral process. Since its establishment, PLAC has grown into a leading institution with capacity to deliver cutting-edge research, policy analysis and advocacy. PLAC receives funding support from donors and other philanthropic sources. Supported By:

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