Crisis looms as Confab plans to send bill for amendment of 1999 Constitution

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By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — AS delegates at the on  going National Conference resumed plenary yesterday to debate on the final report of the Conference as produced by the Secretariat after  one month of recess, strong indications have emerged that crisis looms as some northern delegates
may have concluded plans to frustrate moves to amend some sections of the 1999 Constitution.

comfab-lettersThe Conference Secretariat had already prepared a draft Constitution to be sent to the National Assembly.
The Conference Secretariat yesterday distributed the draft copy of the constitution and a bill to all the delegates, which the northern
delegates were not comfortable with and had planned to ensure that it did not sail through.

At the resumption of the conference yesterday, a northern delegate from Jigawa State representing the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Mallam Sani Zoro described the draft constitution being prepared by the Conference Secretariat as a strange one.
The Justice Idris Kutigi led 2014 National Conference plans to forward a Bill to both the Senate and the House of Representatives to alter some sections of the 1999 Constitution aimed at correcting what it termed some anomalies in the said constitution and make it more people oriented.

Kutigi in the Bill  entitled,  An Act to further alter the Provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999( with the
first, second and third Alterations, and for Related Matters 2014, will go the National Assembly as an Executive Bill.

Vanguard gathered that crises  were already brewing at the Conference as delegates were poised to fight with the leadership of the Confab for tagging it a draft Constitution rather than tag it proposal for the alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the backdrop that the conference has no such mandate to write a constitution, but to advise the President on areas that could be changed in the constitution.

When Vanguard contacted a lawyer and a delegate, Festus Okoye to speak on the document, he noted that the problem was not with the content of the document, but with the National Conference Procedure Rules 2014, stressing that the title was wrong. He argued that rather than write “Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2014,” it should have been, “Proposal for the Alteration of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, which the rules recognise.

Okoye said that there were some delegates and persons who never wanted the Confab to succeed from the beginning, and that what the leadership of the Confab had done was to play into the hands of such persons as it was not within the mandate of delegates to draft a constitution.

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