Lagos – Some lawyers on Friday hailed the Supreme Court order directing the National Assembly to halt the amendment of the 1999 Constitution pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The lawyers said in Lagos that the apex court’s decision was a good development.
NAN reports that a seven-man panel of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, has directed that the status quo be maintained with regard to the amendments.
The order followed the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN), challenging the passage of the 4th Alteration Bill by the 7th National Assembly.
Mr Yinka Farounbi, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, said the eagerness of the legislators to pass the amendment almost at the end of their tenure was “questionable”.
He said: “this amendment has been done several months ago and what were they waiting for?
“It is because there are other things hidden in the amendment like monetary benefits to them after they leave office,’’ Farounbi said.
Also, Mr Chino Obiagwu, Executive Director, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), said it was “good” that the executive took the matter to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
Obiagwu said, “it is not an excuse for the National Assembly to say that they must pass the amendment now.
“Amendment of the constitution is a serious business and I think it is right that the Supreme Court is looking into it.’’
According to him, LEDAP as an organization, is not convinced that the national assembly has followed all the procedure for constitutional amendment.
He said that the procedure was laid out clearly in Sections 8 and 9; “it is not just two-third majority of the National Asembly but there should also be a resolution of two-third of state Houses of Assembly.
“We welcome the development because those procedures have to be scrutinized.’’
In his contribution, a law teacher, Mr Gbenga Ojo, said the only court that had jurisdiction to adjudicate on the dispute between the executive and the legislature was the Supreme Court.
Ojo, who is of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), said the court’s decision for parties to maintain the status quo was the proper thing to do.
“What the Supreme Court is telling them is that they should bring their arguments forward and let the court interpret and give its verdict.”