The Senate last week Thursday amended the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCB/CCT Act) respectively, which is to effectively transfer the President’s regulatory power over the bureau and tribunal to the National Assembly.
We are no doubt taken aback that just months after the red chamber initially suspended the move to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act, the National Assembly subtly passed the amendment Bill into law.
The Senate also reintroduced a provision which authorizes the CCB to invite anyone found culpable in asset declaration to make necessary correction as against being charged to the tribunal for trial – a provision that had earlier been expunged from the extant law.
For many who don’t know, the 3rd & 5th Schedule to our constitution of 1999 as amended emphasizes on important parts of CCT’s existence and only a constitutional amendment can make changes to it.
This constitutional amendment can’t be done by just the Senate, it must be consented to by 2/3 of all our 36 State Houses of Assembly; without which, the provisions of 3rd & 5th schedule stands, the Senate can’t make any changes or modification to the Act as it so exist right now.
Never mind that the Senate went ahead to making amendments that doesn’t comply with the provisions of CCB/CCT as provided by the 3rd & 5th; It will mean the constitution will be invalid, null and void to the extent of its inconsistencies. The amendment can’t stand.
Now let us highlight some of the salient part of the invalid amendment of CCB/CCT Act by the National Assembly and point out where it fails…
The ‘SHALL’ clause in the constitution makes the 3rd & 5th law Mandatory and NEVER optional.
– National Assembly altered the tenure of CCB Chairman to a term of 5yrs renewable once. This is inconsistent with Paragraph 17 (1) of the 5th Schedule in our constitution.
The Paragraph also says the Chairman SHALL vacate his office at the age of 70 years. The word used is “SHALL” and very mandatory.
Therefore the amendment by The National Assembly limiting term of CCB Chairman to 5yrs renewable once is hereby NULL and VOID for being inconsistent with the constitution.
It is crystal clear that the amendment is in conflict with the Nigerian constitution and that those in the senate are not studious enough, even the 1(3) schedule provides that any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution shall be null and void.
The National Assembly can only amend a constitutional Act if amendment is made and supported by 2/3 of all 36 States House of Assembly.
Interestingly, this same National Assembly that has delayed the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which could create jobs for many unemployed Nigerians, was quick to amend the CCT/CCB Act, arrogating to itself the power to control both the CCB and CCT, because it serves its interest.
Overall, the amendment process is perceived as an exercise by the National Assembly to take away the role of the executive in the appointment of Judges of the body due to the ongoing travails of the Senate President with the tribunal, no more, no less!