President Goodluck Jonathan will likely assent, to the amendment to the Constitution termed: ‘Alteration Act 2015’, before he hands over on Friday.
The President’s sudden change of mind was informed by the agreement reached by representatives of the President and the National Assembly at a meeting held on Tuesday at the instance of the Supreme Court to amicably resolve the issue.
The President had refused to sign it due to disagreements with the Legislature on some provisions of the amended constitution.
Moved by threats made by the National Assembly to override his veto, the President, acting through the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed Adoke (SAN), filed a suit at the Supreme Court, asking the court to among others, declare the Fourth Constitution Alteration Bill unconstitutional and illegal.
When the case came up yesterday morning, lawyer to the AGF, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) and lawyer to the National Assembly, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) told the court that parties met on Tuesday and agreed to some concessions, following which the President agreed to sign the amendment.
Ojo, who said the outcome of the meeting was yet to be communicated to the President by the AGF, sought time for parties to finalise the terms of settlement and present them before the court for adoption.
He disagreed with Awomolo, who wanted the court to strike out the case outright, since parties have agreed to an out of court settlement.
Ruling, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who led a seven-man panel hearing the case, directed parties to file the terms of settlement by 4pm and adjourned till then.
When the court resumed shortly after 4pm, Ojo informed the court that the terms of settlement and notice of withdrawal of the case had been filed. He urged the court to adopt the terms of settlement as its decision in the case and strike out the suit, a position Awomolo agreed with.
The CJN consequently struck out the suit and commended parties for agreeing to settle the case amicably.
Ojo said that parties were now at peace as the reason for the suit had been resolved at the meeting.
By the agreement, the President allowed six out of 13 items he had objected to in the amendment.
The agreement saw the removal of alteration to section 9 of the Constitution which allowed the National Assembly to dispense with the President’s assent in the process of constitution amendment.
The inserted subsection 3(a) in section 9 had read, “For the purposes of altering the provisions of this constitution, the assent of the President shall not be required.”
The President was successful in his objection to the separation of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minster of Justice as well as the separation of the Attorney General of state from the Commissioner of Justice.
The President refused to sign the amended constitution as proposed by the National Assembly due to the alterations to sections 8, 9, 34, 35, 39, 42, 45, 58, 84, 150, 174, 195 and 211of the 1999 Constitution.
With the agreement, the alterations made to sections 8, 9, 45(a) – 45(b), 150, 174, 195 and 211 will now be deleted.
The National Assembly will retain its alterations to sections 34, 35, 39, 42, 58 and 84 of the Constitution.
Source: The Nation