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Senate Backs Downs On Veto

Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja

The faceoff between President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly over the former’s refusal to give assent to the Fourth Alteration of the 1999 Constitution took a new twist yesterday, as the Senate succumbed to the Supreme Court’s order on the matter. This followed remarks by Senate President, Senator David Mark, after a closed-door session of the senate, which lasted for a little over two hours.

Mark specifically assured Nigerians that senators, as lawmakers, will not be law breakers. “As we finished our (closeddoor) discussion, I think it is proper for me, because of the importance of the issue, to make a very simple, straight forward and unambiguous statement. “We are lawmakers, and we will not be law breakers. We are not just lawmakers; we are very senior, responsible citizens and very senior lawmakers. And this is the apex of law making in this country.

“Therefore, on the issue of the current Constitutional Review that is before the Supreme Court, we want to assure Nigerians that we will not break any law in this country. We will take appropriate action that will ensure that democracy survives.

“But I will also want to warn that we should not be taken for granted by the executives. But once more, let me assure Nigerians that as lawmakers, we will not be law breakers,” Mark assured.

Meanwhile, the Senate has hinted that it would challenge the Supreme Court’s order on the matter. The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, who dropped the hint, while briefing the Senate correspondents, after the Plenary, said that the Senate has a legal option to vigorously challenge the order of the apex court.

“Let’s say (that) before we leave, we have legal options. And the legal option is to vigorously challenge the order of the (Supreme) Court, which was made ex parte. “It was made without us being put on notice.

We were not represented. And I believe that we can get the (Supreme) Court to quickly determine that. And we intend to pursue that option,” Ndoma-Egba, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said. Ndoma-Egba, who added that the Senate would take up the legal action as soon as possible, explained why the Senate went into an executive session before the Plenary. According to him, it provided members of the Senate Committee on 1999 Constitution Review an opportunity to brief the Senatein- Plenary developments and circumstances surrounding the reviewed Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Ndoma-Egba, who also denied reports that the Senate may have been boxed into this corner by the executive because it (Senate) did not meet the four-fifth vote requirement, maintained that the reports were not correct.

“Our records are very clear. The votes and proceedings are there. And we have gone through the records again and again, and we certainly met the constitutional requirement of four-fifth. So, that one is not an issue,” he insisted. On the issue of the original copy of the Constitution Amendment Bill with President Goodluck Jonathan, the legislator hinted on why the document is still with the President.

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