Constitution: Senate rejects single tenure, backs immunity, LG autonomy

Sixty-one Senators on Tuesday urged the upper chamber to throw out the controversial six-year single term recommended by its Committee on Constitution Review headed by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

The lawmakers also opposed the removal of immunity clause, which shields the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors from prosecution while in office.

The issue of financial autonomy for local governments also received the backing of majority of the Senators who maintained among other arguments, that it would promote efficiency and development of local government council areas.

The Senators, who spoke one after another at plenary, gave a plethora of reasons why their constituents were against the single term proposal.

But Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno) introduced a more controversial dimension into the debate during his contribution.

He stated that as a member of the 49-member Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment, he was at a loss how the resolution to include the six-year single tenure in the CRC report came about.

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Other Senators who made contributions were unanimous that a single term arrangement would institutionalise corruption, dictatorship and engender inefficiency, disaster and chaos in the nation’s democratic system.

On removal of immunity clause, Senators argued that the President and others would be distracted from concentrating on governance.

Senators also backed the granting of financial freedom to the local councils as against the current system of maintaining a joint account with the state governments.

They argued that such autonomy for the local governments would promote development of the local areas and also promote efficiency in council administration.

Consideration of state creation was, however, harped upon by mostly Enyinnaya Abarribe and Matthew Nwagwu.

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Abaribe said his constituents felt deceived by the Senate Constitution Review Committee who, he said, ought to have asked the state creation agitators to go and fulfill the requirements of Section 8 (1) of the Constitution before bothering to forward their request.

He stated that his people want an additional state created in the South East, preferably Aba State.

Nwagwu told the Senate that the most important issue for his people is the creation of state as, according to him, “We have suffered marginalisation and disenfranchisement in the area of sharing of national amenities.”

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