Senator Ike Ekweremadu is insisting that former President Goodluck Jonathan, indeed, signed the 2015 Constitution Amendment Bill.
Ekweremadu who was the Chairman of the Committee on Constitution Review at the time stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Hard Copy.
He said in the 7th and 8th Assembly the constitution was amended several times.
According to him, in the 8th Assembly, several issues were discussed, taken through due process and amended, adding however that there were controversies at the time of signing them into law.
Senator Ekweremadu argued that if allowed to sail through at the time, those amendments would have taken the country to a higher level.
Ekweremadu, who had in April 2015 written to the president providing insights into the amendments, stressed that the National Assembly at the time believed that Jonathan assented to the amendment.
He, however, stressed that the Presidency did not return the original bill sent by the legislature.
“They sent us a photocopy of the bill, so we wanted to see the original because we had it on good authority that it was assented to.
“And then they now sent us a photocopy of the document and when we insisted on seeing the original documents, the Attorney General of the Federation went to the Supreme Court to stop us from making that request.
“We went to the Supreme Court and the Apex Court asked us to settle the matter out-of-court, so we held several meetings in my office where they promised to assent to (the bill) when it was obvious to them that what they sent to us was a photocopy,” Ekweremadu revealed.
The lawmaker sadly noted that on the last day, Jonathan left office without signing the bill.
While stating that he did not ask President Jonathan the reasons for his action, Senator Ekweremadu, said that he used a different approach to the amendment issue in the 8th Assembly
According to him, the lawmakers learned their lessons from the scuffle with the Jonathan administration.
He said that rather than lump the amendments into one document, the legislators devised means to separate the issues within the bill and tendered each as a separate item.
As-far-as Ekweremadu is concerned the new method yielded results as the new President decided to sign those issues which he wanted to sign, leaving out those he was not comfortable with.
The lawmaker was of the opinion that unlike the Jonathan era when “the baby was thrown away with the bathwater”, the efforts of the National Assembly were not in vain.
In a bid to fix Nigeria’s numerous problems especially within the political sphere, many scholars, legal experts, and statesmen over the years have stated that the constitution is the obstacle that has hindered the nation’s growth.
There have been several calls for an amendment of the constitution and attempts have been made at different times to see that the problems inherent in the constitution are fixed.
Major moves at amending the constitution were driven by the 7th and 8th National Assembly, however, these attempts met varying degrees of opposition.
Prominent among the moves made is the constitution (fourth alteration) act (2015) which was truncated by a presidential assent controversy.
The Constitution Amendment Saga of 2015
In the twilight of his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan ‘failed’ to assent to the fourth alteration of the constitution.
Many believed that the 2015 move for alteration was the most ambitious and far-reaching effort at giving Nigerians a befitting constitution some decades after the military era.
About 72 clauses were passed by the National Assembly (NASS) in October 2014 and transmitted to the 36 State Houses of Assembly for ratification in line with Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution. However, only 62 clauses were approved by at least 24 States Assemblies.
Though the legislators thought the alterations were promising, however, a veto letter by former President Goodluck Jonathan to former Senate President, David Mark, dated 13th April 2015 addressed dashed the amendments.
The President’s move came on the heels of claims that Jonathan had earlier signed the amendments before he was persuaded to do otherwise.
Disappointed at the President’s alleged change of mind, the National Assembly argued that Jonathan had no powers to rescind assent of a bill he already signed.
The Presidency strongly denied claims that Jonathan had signed the amended bill, however, his failure to return the original bill along with the veto letter, as required by law, practice, stirred rumors that left the lawmakers and the presidency seeking redress even unto the Apex Court.