Constitution Amendment: Reps Okay LG Autonomy, Remove Immunity For President, Govs •Votes For INEC To Conduct LG Polls, Retains Minimum Wage In Exclusive List

ConstitutionAfter waiting for more than two hours for engineers of NIGCOMSAT to install their electronic voting devices to no avail, the House of Representatives on Wednesday manually voted to pass 85 (exclusive of two that were stepped down) new clauses to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), with the overwhelming rejection of Section 308 which accorded immunity from prosecution from criminal offences for the president, vice president, governor and deputy governor.

By the new provision, the President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies if convicted of a criminal offence, will vacate office to stand trial.

To pass this recommendation, a total of 306 members out of 339 present, voted in support of the removal of immunity. The Reps only needed to form a quorum of 226 on the night to have their way.

The House retained four years as the tenure of office of elected officials.

On Local Government autonomy, the House took a different stand to the Senate by endorsing autonomy for the councils with 293 lawmakers voting in its support, 39 against and seven abstaining.

They however barred unelected local government chairmen from getting funds from Federal Government allocation.

Lawmakers also approved the abrogation of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was saddled with the responsibility of conducting council polls.

Unlike the upper chamber of the National Assembly which voted for the transfer of minimum wage and labour matters from the Exclusive to Concurrent list, the House voted for its retention.

However, health, housing, electricity and railways were removed from the Exclusive Legislative to the Concurrent List.

What this means is that states can now make laws on these matters.

There was good news for Nigerians, who wish to stand for elective offices as individuals rather than on the platform of a political party as the House voted in support of Independent candidacy.

It was reported that 313 lawmakers endorsed the provision; eight opposed it while 12 abstained from voting.

The Senate and House of Representatives found common grounds in the controversial proposal on life pension for President, Vice-President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker and Deputy Speaker after they leave office.

A total of 284 lawmakers reportedly endorsed the provision, with only 18 opposing it. Thirty-six others abstained.

It was learnt that the House adopted all the recommendations of its report on the Peoples’ Public Sessions it conducted across the Federation on November 10, 2012.