Bombshell from Rivers House of Assembly on constitutional amendment:

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  • Votes no to financial autonomy for local councils
  • No to independent candidacy
  • No to power to INEC to deregister political parties
  • Votes no to power of president to withhold assent
  • Yes to imunity for lawmakers

The Rivers State House of Assembly has thrown what looks like a bombshell in the transformation process of the polity. By its voting on Monday, March 5, 2018, local councils would not get financial autonomy, there would be no independent candidates, INEC would not have power to deregister any political party no matter what they did, and there would be imunity for lawmakers.

Full report: In trying to amend the 1999 constitution, if the president withholds assent, the National Assembly may go ahead and adopt the amend the supreme law of the land, going by a request transmitted to the states which has been endorsed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The House of Assembly has just approved the fourth alteration number 24 of the 1999 Constitution which outlines the process for the amendment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where the President witholds his assent.

At its 132 Legislative Day of the Eight Assembly (Third Session) on Monday, the Rivers State House of Assembly voted on 15 alterations of the Constitution (Fourth Alteration) Bill 2017 transmitted to it by the National Assembly.

The voting process was presided over by the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani.

The House also approved Fourth Alteration Number 27 which provides for the reduction of age for qualification to contest the position of President, Governor, National and State Assembly Seats in order to accommodate youths in the electoral process.

The Rivers State House of Assembly further voted to approve alteration number 8 which permits immunity for legislators during sitting and to strengthen the legalisative process.

Also approved by the Rivers State House of Assembly was alteration number 28, which specifies the period within which the President or State Governor must present an appropriation bill to the legislature for consideration.

The House also voted to approve alteration number 4 which confers financial autonomy on State Assemblies and alteration number 2, which reduces the period that the President or State Governor can spend money before the passage of the next budget from 6months to 3months.

However, the Rivers State House of Assembly rejected alteration number 5, which seeks  to approgate the Local Government Joint Account and permit local government councils to operate separate accounts.

The House further rejected alteration number 9 which seeks to permit INEC sufficient time to conduct by-elections and de-register political parties.

It also rejected alteration number 14 which seeks to provide for independent candidates in the course of elections.

In his remarks after the House of Assembly voted on the 15 alterations of the Constitution (Fourth Alteration)  Bill 2017 transmitted  to it by the National Assembly, Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani urged the National Assembly to revisit the issue of devolution of power, as too much powers are concentrated at the National Assembly.

He explained that the over concentration of powers at the Federal level is making the country to drift to a unitary system.

Rt Hon Ibani said that by the voting, the Rivers State House of Assembly has contributed to the process of deepening the nation’s democracy.

He directed the clerk of the Rivers State House of Assembly to immediately transmit the resolution of the House to the National Assembly for necessary action.