We Can’t Give You A New Constitution, Senate Tells Nigerians

The Senate, on Thursday, ruled out the possibility of giving Nigerians a new constitution despite a mass campaign for it.

Different stakeholders and groups, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, had called for a new constitution that will capture the agitations of many Nigerians, instead of amending the present 1999 constitution, which they said had outlived its usefulness.

They said the current 1999 constitution can not sufficiently address the socio-economic challenges currently pummeling the nation.

“There is a very simple solution to the growing insecurity in the country and that is a new constitution,” Afe Babalola, an erudite lawyer, had said.

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But speaking at a national public hearing on the alteration to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution in Abuja, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, said it would be unconstitutional to embark on any process to provide an entirely new law without prior alteration of Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution.

Omo-Agege said: “Now, some of our compatriots have urged that rather than amending the Constitution, we should make a new Constitution all together. We respect this opinion, and we believe it is a most desirable proposition.

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“However, we are conducting this exercise in accordance with the extant legal order, which is the 1999 Constitution.

“Specifically, Section 9 of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly to alter the provisions of the Constitution and prescribes the manner in which it is to be done.

“Unfortunately, it does not make similar provision or provide mechanism for replacing or re-writing an entirely new Constitution.

“To embark on any process without prior alteration of Section 9 of the Constitution to provide the mode through which an entirely new Constitution could be made, would amount to gross violation of our oath of allegiance to the Constitution.

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“In other words, it will take a new Constitutional amendment to be able to give Nigerians a most desired new Constitution. It would be unconstitutional to do otherwise.”

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