Nigerian govt sues Senate, House over Constitution Amendments

Inside the chambers of the House of Representatives

The Federal Government has instituted a suit at the Supreme Court to nullify the proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

President Goodluck Jonathan had withheld his assent to the amendments to some sections of the document sent to him by the National Assembly.

In a seven-page letter to the Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, the president queried the decision of the National Assembly to whittle down some executive powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He faulted some amendments which gives executive powers and duties to the legislature and the judiciary.

Mr. Jonathan explained his position on the amendment and why he declined to sign the document into law.

“In view of the foregoing and absence of credible evidence that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration) Act 2015 satisfied the strict requirements of Section 9(3) of the 1999 Constitution, it will be unconstitutional for me to assent to it,” the president said.

“I therefore withhold my assent and accordingly remit Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration) Act 2015 to the Senate /House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

However, the National Assembly said after 30 days, it would override the veto of the president.

But in an originating summon filed by a former Attorney General of the Federation, Bayo Ojo, on behalf of the incumbent AGF, Mohammed Adoke, the Federal Government posited that the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 passed by the federal legislature did not have the mandatory requirement of four-fifth majority of the legislature.

The originating summons is supported by an affidavit deposed to by Theophilus Okwute, a lawyer in Mr. Ojo’s chamber.

It said the requirement was mandated by the relevant sections of the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

The government requested the Supreme Court to give an order nullifying and setting aside Sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 purportedly passed by the legislature.

It also asked the Supreme Court to ‎determine the following two questions: —

“Whether the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (hereinafter referred to as the Constitution) by the Defendant through sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ((Fourth Alteration) Act 2015 (hereinafter referred to as The Fourth Alteration Act 2015) which purportedly altered sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174 and 211 of the Constitution without compliance with the requirements of section 9(3) of the Constitution is not unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null and void?

“Whether in the absence of compliance by the Defendant with the mandatory requirement of section 9(3) of the Constitution in the passage of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015, the Defendant can competently exercise its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution to enable the purported Act to become Law?‎”

The government requested the Court to hold that ‎the proposed amendments to the Constitution through sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 which purportedly altered sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174 and 211 of the Constitution and passed by the Defendant without complying with the mandatory requirement of section 9(3) and (4) of the said Constitution stipulating passage by at least four-fifths majority of all members of each House specified in sections 48 and 49 of the Constitution is unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

The government prayed the Supreme Court to ‎declare that in the absence of compliance by the defendant with the mandatory requirements of section 9(3) of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 which purportedly altered sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174 and 211 of the Constitution, it is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to exercise its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution to enable the purported Act to become Law.

Mr. Okwute said Mr. Adoke told him that the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 was not passed with the mandatory requirement of four-fifths majority of members of the Defendant and the mandatory due processes provided for under the relevant sections of the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

‎According to him, the defendant is making moves, with the tacit consent of all the State Houses of Assembly, to employ certain provisions of the Constitution to now pass the purported Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 into Law.

Mr. Okwute also said Fourth Alteration Act 2015 contains many proposed amendments inconsistent with the spirit of federalism, separation of powers and checks and balances, all of which constitute the hallmark of the Constitution and democracy. ‎

He said most of the provisions of the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 are contrary to public policy and good governance.

He said it would be in the interest of justice to grant all prayers sought in the case.


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  • It takes only a man like Jonathan to insist that the power of a president should not be whittled down even when he knows he is going out of office as President. Yet some baboons don’t appreciate him. Time shall tell!

    • John

      Thank you.

    • Tonnero

      Good point. However, I still think he was a misfit as president. And, by the way, there is nothing inherently wrong in whittling down the powers of the president. The Nigerian president is already far too powerful.

  • udemeobong

    For the first time that we are witnessing a federal govtment going to court against the parlament. When both the parlament and the federal government were one, no heard of such legal issues. Now that the goata are separated from the sheep, they are rancour, fellings of being cheated, fear of being prosecute, resized and what have you. Naija, na wao!

    • Tonnero

      Actually, this is a good thing. We perfect our nation when the executive, the legislature and judiciary understand that, though they need to work together, they have very specific responsibilities to the Nigerian people under the constitution and these should not be traded lightly on the alter of partisanship.

    • PolyGon2013

      CHANGE has really come to Nigeria. Wow! GMB has not even started and we are feeling the CHANGE.

  • Abdul Hasib

    To the Editor,
    The appropriate parties to the suit are The President of FRN V The National Assembly.

    The both parties are components of the Nigerian Government.

    Kindly effect.

  • Lemmuel Odjay

    Are we running a federal constitution in spirit and in truth? I thought there was too much power at the executive central level of our system. There is just too much Aso in the Nigerian Rock. I want to wake up each morning to what is happening around me, not what happened last night at far away Abuja. We have to give power to the people. It belongs to them…

  • sirOscie

    Atiku is the man for Nigeria and I strongly believe he will make life better for Nigerians and restore hope to the hopeless and an army of unemployed youths.
    #Atiku2019