The House of Representatives on Wednesday (October 15) in Abuja voted to effect 71 amendments to sections of the 1999 constitution. Areas covered by this include legislative immunity, local government autonomy, state creation, indigeneship and citizenship, independent candidacy in elections, budgetary process, revenue allocation, life pension for National Assembly heads and role for traditional rulers.
The new amendment makes it mandatory for the president to address a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year and for the house to bypass the president if he failed to sign a bill presented to him within 30 days. On the contrary, they rejected the amendment of Section 9 to allow for a referendum in determining the fate of the National Conference recommendations.
To amend the constitution, a two-third vote (240 of the 360 members) is required. 261 of the 360 house members participated in the process. Of these, 252 members voted in favour of the amendments, eight voted against and one abstained.
A major highlight of the endorsement was the removal of the immunity clause for the President, the Vice President, the governors and their deputies. By implication, occupiers of the offices can be tried for criminal offences while still in office.
The report is to be forwarded to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for their concurrence. Within seven days, the President of the Senate shall convene a joint sitting of the National Assembly to reconsider the bill. If passed by two-thirds majority of members of both Houses at such joint sitting, the Bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required
This is the single largest amendment in the history of constitution review in Nigeria.