Two Nigerian lawyers on Wednesday condemned the decision of the National Assembly to continue with the amendment of the constitution despite an order by the Supreme Court to suspend the amendments that the Presidency had refused to approve.
The Senate had in their plenary on Tuesday expressed readiness to overturn President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to sign some of the amended parts of the constitution, which the Presidency said it stripped it of some powers.
The Executive Arm of government had on May 7 secured a court injunction from the Supreme Court to halt the amendment, but the National Assembly looks ready to violate the court order.
A constitutional Lawyer, Mr Fred Agbaje, told Channels Television on Wednesday that the constitution amendment presented to the President by the National Assembly to approve was a ‘dubious document’ that would have striped the presidency of major constitutional power that were vested in him.
He stressed the need for the National Assembly to abide by the rules guiding the amendment of the constitution.
“Section four of the constitution deals with legislative powers in the Federation.
“There is a clause in the law that gives the Judiciary Arm of government a supervisory role to ensure that everything done follows the provision of the constitution. It gives the judiciary the power to superintend or review the laws.
“The constitution is founded on the principle of separation of power. The judiciary comes in when any of the other arms of government attempt to go against the provision of the law,” he said.
The lawyer also pointed out that the court would not interfere with the power of the legislature to legislate, except when it was against the provisions of the constitution.
“In the cause of making the law and the law is violated, the court will come in.”
Mr Agbaje further suggested that the amendment of the constitution should involve Nigerians who power belonged to.
“It is a very serious thing to amend the constitution. In the previous five amendments, there are no contributions of the people.”
He stated that the decision of the Senate to overturn the order of the court was an affront and a threat to the Rule of Law.
“The National Assembly must legislate by example. There might be constitutional crisis if it is not properly handled.
“Once a matter is before the court, even if it is a customary court, all the parties involved should sheath their sword allow the court to decide.
According to him, the situation could lead to a constitutional crisis that could take some time before it would be resolved.
The lawyer suggested that both parties should discuss the areas of misunderstanding and resolve the matter.
Another lawyer, Emmanuel Anyaegbunam, linked the brewing crisis to structural issue, saying that the Supreme Court order should be obeyed by the National Assembly in line with the oath to obey and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“They should bear in mind that they are to make law to the peace, order and good governance of Nigeria. They should not go against that. It is the people’s will that is in the constitution.
“The constitution is a handiwork of the people and law making is a handiwork of the parliament.
“The people are shut off. There is no people’s referendum. The people were not involved in the amendment of the constitution because it had been done through parliamentary process.
“Nigerians subjected law making as an act of parliament. The Constitutional jurisprudent is now so poor that we are talking about veto,” Mr Anyaegbunam stated.
He further suggested that the establishment of a constitutional court in Nigeria should be considered.