constitution
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THE HYDRA-HEADED FOURTH ALTERATION

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INTRODUCTION

Whilst we all know about the 4th alteration to the Nigerian 1999 Constitution; I doubt if we all know that there are about five (5) different versions of 4th alterations (Yes, that many!). However, in our usual way of going the extra mile to make sure all resources needed to make your legal research seamless is available at your fingertips; we, at LawPavilion, have incorporated all these 5 alterations in the 1999 Constitution and same is now available on our various products for your use.

Below is an attempt to give you a hint of what the different parts of the 4th alteration borders on. The five variants of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 in focus in this article are:

  1.       Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No.4) Act, 2017 ACT No.7
  2.     Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No.9) Act, 2017 ACT No.9
  3.       Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 16) Act, 2017 ACT No.10
  4.     Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 21) Act, 2017 ACT No.8
  5.       Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 27) Act, 2017 ACT No.6

 

  1.     Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No.4) Act, 2017 ACT No.7

This alteration seeks to provide for the funding of the Houses of Assembly of States directly from the consolidated revenue fund of the State by substituting for subsection (3) of Section 121 of the Principal Act which formerly read: “Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned” a new subsection (3) which now reads ‘‘Any amount standing to the credit of the -

(a) House of Assembly of the State; and[1]

(b) Judiciary;

in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the said bodies respectively; in the case of the judiciary, such amount shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned.”

2.    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No.9) Act, 2017 ACT   No.9

This version of the fourth alteration focuses on providing INEC with sufficient time to conduct bye-elections where no clear winner has emerged in an election by substituting for the word, “seven” days, in line 2 of subsection 4 and 5 of Sections 134 and 179 of the Principal Act, the words “twenty-one” days.

The alteration further made provision for grounds for de-registration of political parties by inserting after section 225 of the principal Act, a new section 225A which empowers INEC to de-register a political party for any of the stated reasons.

3.    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 16) Act, 2017 ACT   No.10

This particular variant of the fourth alteration seeks to  disqualify a person who was sworn-in as president or governor to complete the  term of an elected president or governor from being elected to the same office for more  than a single term by inserting after subsection 2 of Sections 137 and 182 of the Principal Act anew subsection (3) to this effect.

4.    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 21) Act, 2017 ACT   No.8

This particular fourth alteration provides for the time frame for the determination of pre-election matters by substituting for the marginal note of Section 285 of the Principal Act, a new marginal note “Time for determination of-pre-election matters, establishment of Election Tribunals and time for determination of election petitions” and substituting for its subsection (8), a new subsection (8) which empowers a tribunal or court to suspend its ruling on a preliminary objection or any other interlocutory issue touching on its jurisdiction to the final judgment stage. This fourth alteration further altered section 285 of the Principal Act by inserting new subsections “(9) – (14)” to the effect that every pre-election matter shall be filed not later than 14 days from the date of the occurrence of the event and judgment in writing is to be given within 180 days; appeal from a decision in such pre-election matter is to be filed within 14 days from the date of delivery of the judgment and same shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing of the appeal. The section, as amended, also explains what constitutes a “pre-election” matter and precludes an election tribunal or court from declaring any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the election.

5.    Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 27) Act, 2017 ACT   No.6

This alteration focuses essentially on the reduction of the qualifying age for the office of the president, membership of the House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly by substituting the word, “thirty-five” and “thirty” in sections 65 (1) (b) and 106 (b) of the Principal Act respectively, with “twenty-five”; and substituting the word, “forty” in 131 (b) of the Principal Act with the words, “thirty-five”.

It is worthy of note that Fourth Alteration, No. 4,9,16 and 21 has 7th Day of June 2018 as their commencement date while Fourth Alteration, No. 27 has 31st Day of May 2018 as its commencement date.

CONCLUSION

The Nigerian Constitution, (being the grundnorm and foundation of the Nigerian Legal System and the basic law upon which other laws and subsidiary legislation are based, and invariably derive their validity) undoubtedly requires constant update in the way of amendment or alteration for it to continually be in tune with current happenings in the country.

However, should it be done in piecemeal?

Share your view in the comment section.

 

[1] The difference in the two provisions is put in italics for emphasis

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lawpavilion • June 27, 2019


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Comments

  1. Dejo Olowu June 29, 2019 - 10:15 am Reply

    Truth of the matter is that the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 arrived with so many flaws and faults from the inherited 1979 version. No thanks to the hurried transition programme following General Sani Abacha’ s sudden death in 1998. All these tit-bits of alterations will never fully cure the defects in the current constitution. Nigeria, as presently constituted on the 1999 Constitution needs overhaul. We cannot continue to suture its torn parts unless we want to sustain a tattered, disjointed and outmoded constitution. What stops us from inventing a truly democratic constitution, made by the Nigerian people themselves, and not a piece of document imposed on the polity by some boys in military uniform? Tragic as it may sound, we are playing the ostrich game with our common destiny!

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