Constitution Review: 25 States Demand State Police

It became clear on Tuesday that the 9th National Assembly’s effort to rewrite the constitution has encountered difficulties as a result of 25 State Houses of Assembly’s refusal to accept any of the 44 issues forwarded to them for approval.

The affected 25 State Houses of Assembly are pleading with the National Assembly to include the establishment of State Police, State Judicial Council, streamlining of procedures for removing Presiding officers of State Houses of Assembly, and institutionalization of Legislative Bureaucracy in the Constitution, as bemoaned by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege.

Omo–Agege who briefed the Press in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, said the position of the 25 States against the review exercise without the inclusion of the four demands, was communicated to them via letter written to that effect by Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies.

He said only 11 out of the 36 States Houses of Assembly, have considered some of the 44 bills transmitted to them for concurrence in March this year.

The 11 states he added are Abia, Akwa–Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun, and Osun.

He said: “Six months after transmitting 44 Bills to State Assemblies for concurrence, it is most disheartening to inform you that only 11 State Houses of Assembly have demonstrated their independence and loyalty to the Constitution regarding the bills.

“25 State Houses of Assembly have yet to consider and vote on these bills. So far, only Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun States have successfully considered, voted on, and forwarded their resolutions on the 44 bills to the National Assembly.

“More worrisome is that while we are still expecting the receipt of the resolutions of the remaining Houses of Assembly, we received a letter from the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies informing the National Assembly that the remaining states will not act on the 44 Bills unless the National Assembly passes four new Bills they have proposed in the letter.

“The Bills they propose seek to amend the Constitution to: [b]Establish State Police; Establish State Judicial Council; Streamline the procedure for removing Presiding Officers of State Houses of Assembly; and institutionalize Legislative Bureaucracy in the Constitution.

“The National Assembly is in no way averse to acting on any proposed Bill or memoranda appropriately tabled before it, at any time in its life.

“However, it is legally inappropriate for the Conference of Speakers to use the four Bills as a quid pro quo to act on the 44 Bills the National Assembly 44 Bills transmitted.

“It is clear, and we cannot overstate, that this letter is not in keeping with the obligation the Constitution has placed on them regarding the Constitutional amendment.

“It is disheartening that some State Houses of Assembly, through the Conference of Speakers, would give the National Assembly conditions before fulfilling their constitutional obligations.

“Although the Conference of Speakers did not allude to it in their letter, we are aware of the undue interference with legislative processes and the political capture of some State Houses of Assembly by some State Governors.

“No doubt, some State Governors have worked tirelessly to turn the Conference of Speakers and some State Assemblies into political puppets, thereby undermining and delegitimising the legislative institution at the state level.

“This interference has been ramped up, especially in opposition to the Bills granting financial and administrative autonomy to Local Governments”.