Harmonise Constitution, Senate Tells AG, NJC

Chief RTN, Diamond Oluieraye (left) presenting a gift to Assistant Director News, NTA PHC, Madam Cordeila Ukwuoma, during Rotary Club press week in Port Harcourt, last Monday. With them is Rotary Club President, Rtn Dan Harrison. Photo: Obinna Prince Dele

The Senate, yesterday, expressed concern over different versions and copies of the Nigerian Constitution in circulation.
The move was based on a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP/Enugu North) at the plenary yesterday, titled, ‘Harmonising the Different Versions and Copies of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Circulation into One Authentic Whole.’
He said the different versions of the 1999 Constitution currently in circulation makes it look counterfeit and unreliable as a source of law.
“I am concerned that these alterations are printed as separate provisions and there has not been an attempt to embed and graft them into the Constitution as one whole living document,” Utazi submitted.
Utazi, said the Senate recognised the fact that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came into force on May 29, 1999, with eight Chapters, 320 Sections and Seven Schedules.
He pointed out that the Constitution of any country was the ‘ground norm’ from which all other laws, instruments and institutions derive their authority, legitimacy and powers.
He said, “The Senate is aware that since 1999, the Constitution has successfully gone through three alterations – in July 2010, November 2010 and March 2011, respectively – and in each case, amending various provisions to bring them in conformity with contemporary democratic practice and realities.
“The Senate is worried that there are different versions of the original 1999 Constitution and of the three alterations, with various copies in circulation.
“We are also worried that the Constitution is the heartbeat of the nation and its provisions should not be subjected to the caprices of printers or allowed to have different words and structure.”
The lawmaker cited the instance of Section 84 where a version ends with Subsection 6, while other versions of the same end with Subsection 7, despite that the first alteration provided for Subsection 8.
After contributions from various lawmakers, the Senate mandated its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to liaise with the National Judicial Council and the Attorney-General and other relevant agencies to withdraw the different versions of the Constitution in circulation.
The committee together with all the other government agencies is to also authorize the printing and distribution of an authentic and consolidated version which should reflect the different alterations in the Constitution since 1999.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, rejected the report on the Southern Kaduna crisis.
The upper legislative arm said it turned down the report for “lack of depth “ .
The Senate had in January set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the causes of the crisis which killed hundreds of people and displaced millions in Southern Kaduna.
The Senate had condemned the incident that led to the death of many, and the destruction of 53 villages; injuring of 57 people, where farm produce worth about N5.5 billion destroyed and 1,422 houses and 16 churches allegedly razed by herdsmen.
The Senate set up the committee  following a motion sponsored by Senator Danjuma La’ah (PDP, Kaduna South).
In his presentation, La’ah said: “The Senate notes that since 2011, various communities in Southern Kaduna senatorial district of Kaduna State have been consistently attacked by herdsmen, resulting in deaths, injuries, loss of property and displacement of the communities.”
According to him, since December 23, 2016, communities of Ambam, Gaska, Dangoma, Tsonje, Pasankori, Gidan Waya and Farin Gada of Iama’a and Kaura councils have been under attack by the herdsmen.
“In the last one year, we have witnessed a harvest of killings by these marauding herdsmen with several cases of massacre in Agatu, Benue State; Uzo Uwani, Enugu State, with several attacks in Taraba, Delta and Edo states, to mention a few.”
Following a recommendation by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, that the motion should not be debated so as to avoid bad blood, additional contributions were not accommodated.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said: “We condemn in totality the depravity being exhibited on the streets of Kafanchan.
“This Senate will not pay lip service to it, neither will it sit idly by and watch innocent Nigerians being slaughtered on the basis of their religion, ethnic group or political persuasion.”
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, called on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency stop to stop threatening the lawmaker representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Senator Buruji Kashamu, with extradition to the United States over alleged drug related offences.
The decision was made at the plenary yesterday based on the recommendation by the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, submitted the panel’s report on a petition filed by Kashamu’s lawyers, TRLP Law, to the legislature.
The lawmakers unanimously granted the recommendations of the report at the plenary presided over by President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki.