Another veto move fails, as Reps kills Police funds bill

OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has rejected a veto bill that sought to override the President’s rejection of the Police Procurement bill.

The bill is one of those rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, which the House presented for reconsideration in line with section 65 of the constitution. In his letter, the President noted that the bill is ambiguous and contravenes the horizontal separation of power.

In the House today, the bill failed to gain enough support and was stepped down by the leave of the House for offending provisions of the constitution.

The bill was sponsored by Francis Onyewuchi (Owerri, APGA), who noted that section 80 of the constitution gives the National Assembly the power to appropriate funds on behalf of the three tiers of government.

The leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, refuted the claim that the constitution empowers the National Assembly to appropriate for the three tiers of government. He announced that accepting such an interpretation of the constitution would lead the National Assembly to appropriate all the funds in the federation account, effectively leaving States without money to pay workers.

He then suggested that, if the phrase “states shall” could be expunged from the bill and replaced with the phrase “states may” instead, it could solve the problem. However, he noted that the bill would still have to be stepped down because if it is amended because it would contravene the constitution.

The Chairman of the Committee on Public Petitions, Uzoma Nkem Abonta (PDP, Abia) tried to salvage the bill by appealing to members, saying that the contents of the bill were too important to be allowed to die. Therefore, he proposed that the bill be allowed to pass on to the committee stage where a committee would remove all the contending issues.

The appeal by Abonta failed to sway most members but it managed to sway Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) who had kicked against the bill earlier. Mr Ossai referred to the new doctrine as the “doctrine of executive-legislative harmony,” which he noted would allow the House remove the areas in contradiction with the constitution without necessarily overriding the president.

The doctrine was also rejected by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Lasun Yusuf (APC, Osun), who said: “Yes Abonta has successfully identified the problem, however the concern raised by the President has constitutional impediment, it is either we amend the police act or we face the problem of nomenclature (federation account and consolidated account), it is more fundamental than we are looking at.

“There is no way we can navigate the constitution imbroglio, rather starts the conversation of state police.”

The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who had earlier implored the members to consider means to salvage the bill, urged its sponsor to withdraw it after he discovered that a new bill sponsored by Olamide Oni (SDP, Ekiti) already accommodated the concerns raised by Abonta and co.

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