In a report released by the Heritage Foundation which is…
By Nelson Ekujumi The way the National Assembly comprising the Senate and House of Representatives have been conducting their affairs in the 8th session of this democratic dispensation is a threat to democracy, rule of law and national security.
This national assembly is peopled by representatives of the people who need to be reminded and educated that they swore on oath to abide by and uphold the provisions of the constitution and not to abuse and violate it.
Membership of the National Assembly is not a licence for desecrating the hallowed chambers of the legislature by indulging in legislative rascality and irresponsibility. The business of making law is serious business and must not in anyway be trivialized or turned into a comedy show.
Time and time again, members of the National Assembly have conducted their affairs in a manner which threatens democracy, rule of law, doctrine of separation of powers and national security by assuming that they are Lord of the manor in our democracy.
In a democracy, the legislature exist to check and prevent the executive from transforming into a dictator through constructive engagements by it’s oversight functions and other mechanisms.
The legislature just like other arms of government is bound to obey the letter and spirit of the constitution which does not in anyway confer superiority of any arm of government over the other. Whatever act or action of the National Assembly that is being contemplated must be guided by the primary focus on the interest of the generality of Nigerians who elected them into office and not motivated by selfish and personal interest which has become our lot with these class of lawmakers and is very unfortunate.
One is at a loss to explain and rationalize if the members of the National Assembly understand the damage to national psyche and the undermining of democracy and rule of law by delving into issues before the courts even in obvious defiance and violations of its own standing rules. The rascality and undermining of the doctrine of rule of law and the integrity of the legislature can be seen in its unconstitutional intrusion into a case before the court between EFCC and former first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan in her money laundering trial and confiscation of assets, the case of Olisa Metuh coming to court on a stretcher for his corruption trial, among several others comes to mind.
Lately, the legislature has taken its rascality to a new level by trying to illegally usurp the primary and indisputably empowered functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize and determine dates and sequence of elections as enshrined in the constitution by the backdoor tactics of the amendment of the Electoral Act. According to the 1999 constitution as amended, the powers to organize, fix date and the sequence of elections is solely vested in INEC because there is no provision in the constitution whereby the National Assembly is empowered to jointly exercise this function with the electoral umpire.
According to the constitution, where any law or act runs contrary to the provisions of the constitution, such an act or law becomes null, void and of no effect.
Thus, this amendment of the Electoral Act to allow for the National Assembly to exercise the primary and constitutional function of INEC is a violation of the third schedule, part 1, item 15(a) of the 1999 constitution and is thus, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect, therefore, it cannot stand.