Thursday, 1 December 2016

Reps move to bar acting president, governor from second term

The House of Representatives yesterday moved to bar any person who has acted as president or governor for a period of two years from seeking election to serve beyond one term of four years in office.

The bill, sponsored by the Deputy Speaker Sulaimon Lasun Yussuff specifically noted: “No person who has held office of president or governor of a state or acting as president or governor of a state for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected president or governor, shall be elected to the office of president or governor of a state more than once.”

Lasun, who is also the chairman of the ad hoc committee on constitution review, explained that the aim of the bill is to give constitutional protection to the two-term tradition. He added that by virtue of the provisions of sections 137(1)(b) and 182(1)(b) of the constitution, the president and governor of a state shall serve in those capacities for a maximum period of eight years.

He further argued that the constitution equally envisaged circumstances where a person can be chosen to act as president or governor, including when the president or a governor resigns, dies or is impeached.

This amendment, he said, was inspired by the 22nd amendment to the constitution of the United States which provides: “No person shall be elected to the office of the president more than twice and no person who has held office of president or acted as president for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected president shall be elected to the office of president more than once.”

If this proposed law had come into force before the 2015 presidential election, former President Goodluck Jonathan who spent part of the term of former President Umaru Yar’Adua after he died in office would not have contested for president. And this would have saved the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the crises that are now hobbling it.

The House also considered a bill aimed at ensuring that President Muhammadu Buhari and the 36 state governors of the federation attach portfolios of their ministerial and commissioner nominees.

The bill, which reached second reading stage at the plenary session of the House presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, was also referred to the special ad-hoc committee of the house on the review of the 1999 constitution for consideration.

Yussuf, who was also the sponsor of the bill explained that this would enable the legislative houses at both the national and state levels to take informed decisions on the nominees to be screened for occupants of the positions.

Another bill sponsored by Mr. James Abiodun Faleke (APC: Lagos) titled a “Bill for an Act to alter Section 1 (3) of the sixth schedule of the constitution to make the chief justice of the federation responsible for the gubernatorial, national and state assembly election tribunals in all states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT)” scaled the second reading on the floor of the House.

Faleke justified his initiative saying it was aimed at contributing to the ongoing judicial and electoral reform in the polity.

He said under the existing dispensation, ‎the authority to appoint the judges for the tribunals as well as the appellate tribunals rests squarely on the president of the Court of Appeal (PCA) in consultation with the chief judge of the state, the grand Khadi of the sharia court of appeal of the state or the president of the customary court of appeal of the state depending on the states where the said tribunal members are to be appointed from.

Faleke argued that it was obvious that having the PCA select and appoint the two sets of tribunals which invariably transit the decisions of the lower tribunal to the upper one portends potential conflict of interest of the PCA, and in many cases may not allow for fair hearing in the matters concerned.

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