‘Amended constitution may free councils from states’ control’

INEC may get 60 days for rerun polls

A REVIEW of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly may lead to states losing control of their councils.

Also, six additional new states will soon be created. This hint was dropped yesterday in Awka by the All Progressive Grand Alliance member representing Njikoka/ Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency, Iyom Uche Ekwunife.

She said that the House was reviewing the constitution because “it’s obvious there were some areas that require further amendment and review.” She said that the constitution being the basis of the nation’s laws, it should be devoid of any inconsistency as much as possible. Areas that have become undesirable, she noted, would be expunged without further delay.

According to her, the lawmakers had in its recent retreat in Port Harcourt also critically considered the trend in the various states in the handling of local council affairs by the governors, noting that it had not helped the smooth operations within the third tier of government at all.

She said that the lawmakers noted that the state governments had evidently literally removed the councils from the people they were supposed to serve thereby negating the original positive intentions of the formulators of the arrangement.

So, to reverse the unhealthy trend, she said that the National Assembly would remove all the affairs of local council from the whims and caprices of the state governors and to grant the councils full autonomy.

According to the lawmaker, Section 76 of the Constitution, which provides for 30 days within which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should organise rerun elections has evidently become impracticable hence it needs to be amended.

Her words: “It is now obvious that 30 days is not going to be enough time for INEC to do a good job. The Commission had in their submission stated that it required at least 60 days. So, to avoid a hurried job that would cause miscarriage of justice, it’s then better to amend the law and allow them the 60 days.”

Ekwunife, who is the chairman, House Committee on Environment, listed some other areas they deliberated on to include the percentage of women representation in national affairs, the environment (especially the indiscriminate hoisting of telecommunications base stations/masts all over the nation’s villages and communities); erosion, flooding and oil pollution. Others include the separation of the office of the Minister of Justice from that of the Attorney General of the Federation; and the operation of foreign accounts by public office holders.

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