Six Months After Inauguration, Senate Committee Yet to Begin Constitution Review

Ovie Omo-Agege, Head of Constitutional Drafting Committee

LAGOS AUGUST 17TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The Senate Constitution Review Committee inaugurated in February 2020 by the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, is yet to take off, THISDAY investigation has revealed.

This is coming just as the House of Representatives is yet to constitute its committee more than a year after the commencement of the ninth Assembly.

The 58-member committee headed by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, was inaugurated on February 12, 2020, and had since not met on how to go about the constitution review business.

Findings by THISDAY at the weekend revealed that members of the committee had not met again six months after the inaugural meeting.

Some senators, who are members of the committee, expressed concern that the committee secretariat had not deemed it necessary to invite them to any other meeting since February 12, 2020.

A ranking senator, who expressed disappointment over the development, wondered why the committee was yet to hit the ground running.

The lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, wondered “why other committees are working even in the COVID-19 pandemic, but a very important committee to review the constitution decided to fold its arm and do nothing.”

THISDAY further gathered that no fewer than 40 constitution amendment bills that had passed first reading at the Senate had been referred to the committee for further legislative work.

Sources added that the committee work might not commence until all the referred bills are gazetted, and this is being handled by the Senate Committee on Rules and Business.

So far, about 20 of the constitutional bills had been gazetted in the last one week, while plans were on to gazette others in the next one week or thereabout.

By implication, the much promised commencement of the constitution review committee work after Sallah break by Senator Omo-Agege may have to wait till another week or two.

Omo-Agege had on March 29 hinted that the Senate would commence the amendment of the 1999 constitution as soon as the Sallah break was over.

According to him, “Immediately after the Sallah, we are going to hit the ground running with constitution review exercise.”

Two weeks after Sallah, the committee members were yet to be notified of any programme or meeting by the committee.

One of the committee members told THISDAY that: “Yes I’m aware that the committee Chairman, Ovie Omo-Agege, said we would start work immediately after Sallah, but two weeks after, there’s no information as to what is to be done, in short there has been no invitation extended to any committee member, and we are in the dark as to how soon we will meet.”

When contacted on the issue, the Special Adviser on Media to the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Yomi Odunuga, told THISDAY yesterday that there is no cause for alarm, saying the constitution review committee is on course.

He stated that a meeting was held last Wednesday presided over by Omo-Agege to form all arrangements for the committee to commence work.

Odunuga said: I’m aware there was a closed-door meeting on the issue last Wednesday, when strategies for the committee take off were outlined, and we will move on from there.”

The committee, whenever it starts work, will, among other functions, go round the six geo-political zones of the country to get input from the people as well as the state Houses of Assembly on sections of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that requires amendment.

The House of Representatives, on its part, has not constituted its committee on constitution review more than a year after the inauguration of the ninth Assembly.

It, however, gave an assurance that the committee, which will be chaired by the House Deputy Speaker, Hon Idris Wase, will soon commence review of the constitution.

Speaking to THISDAY yesterday, the Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker, Mohammed Umar-Puma, said the House would constitute its own Constitution Review Committee very soon and commence work.

ThisDay

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