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Senate mulls commission to equitably pick service chiefs

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• Eyes special tribunal to entertain pre-election matters

Apparently deferring to the outcry in the land, the Senate has introduced a bill seeking total adherence to the federal character principle in the appointment of service chiefs.

Sponsored by the Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, the piece of legislation, which scaled first reading yesterday, is creating a commission that would recommend service chiefs to the president.

Tagged “Armed Forces Service Commission and other related matters 2020”, the proposed law stated that the appointment of the Chiefs of Defence Staff; Army Staff; Air Staff; Naval Staff; Director of Military intelligence and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies shall be subject to the recommendations by the commission.

Abaribe, in his lead debate, said: “The commission shall have the power and authority pursuant to Section 219 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to ensure that the composition/appointment of service chiefs of the armed forces of the federation reflects federal character in the manner prescribed in Section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution.”

Besides, the bill stated that, “the commission shall ensure that the functions specified in Section 217 of the 1999 Constitution and the powers exercisable by the president in the appointment of service chiefs and officers of corps and other ranks of the armed forces of the federation in Section 218 of the 1999 Constitution reflects the Federal Character of Nigeria.”

It further read: “As from the date of commencement of this Act, the commission shall have the power to recommend to the president from among the best and most qualified, most educated and most experienced members of the armed forces of the federation for appointment as (a) Chief of Defence Staff; (b) Chief of Army Staff; (c) Chief of Air Staff; (d) Chief of Naval Staff; (e) Director of Military intelligence; and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies and ensure that such appointments reflect the federal character principle.”

The proposal, when passed, would empower the commission to “recommend to the president the removal from office of service chiefs and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies on ground of misconduct, abuse of office, breach of any section of the constitution, the Armed Forces Act or any other Act of the National Assembly.”

Besides, the upper legislative has floated some bills to alter some provisions of the constitution to stop federal and state high courts from entertaining pre-election matters.The constitution amendment processes also restrict the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from entertaining issues relating to elections.

According to one of the proposed laws sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, (Delta Central), cases of political parties’ nominations for public offices and emergence of executives should be exclusively entertained by a pre-election matter tribunal to be set up by the proposed amendment.

The piece of legislation is entitled,” A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to preclude the Federal High Court from entertaining pre-election disputes emanating from congresses, conferences, conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies.”

The tribunals are the National and State House of Assembly Pre-Election Matters Tribunal; Governorship Pre-Election Matters Tribunal and the Presidential Pre-Election Matters Tribunal.

Accordingly, the bill stated that “each election tribunal shall dispense with matters before it within 180 days while all pre-election matters shall be filed within seven days from date of publication of candidates.”


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Eyinnaya AbaribeSenate
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