The Process for Amending the Constitution in Nigeria

01 Jul The Process for Amending the Constitution in Nigeria

The Process for Amending the Constitution in Nigeria

Section 9(2) of the 1999 Constitution deals with the process by which any amendment of the Constitution can be carried.

The Section provides that there are separate requirements that must be met to alter the constitution, depending on the part of the Constitution that is to be altered.

 

Procedure I: Four-Fifths Majority

This is the more stringent process for alteration and it states that for the alteration to be valid it must be passed by the votes of not less than four-fifths majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly i.e. the Senate and the House of Representatives. After it is passed by the requisite majority of the Houses, it must then be approved by resolution of the House of Assembly of not less than two-third of all the States in Nigeria. At present, there are 36 States in Nigeria, therefore the proposed amendments must be passed by resolutions of the House of Assembly in at least 24 States.

After the requisite number of States have approved the alterations, the proposed alterations will then be presented before the President for his/her assent to it.

The requirement for four-fifth majority is with respect to the following sections:

  • Section 8 of the 1999 Constitution, which deals with the process for creating a new State or Local Government Area, boundary adjustment of an existing State or Local Government area
  • Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution which deals with the process for altering the Constitution
  • Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution which deals with the Fundamental rights of all Nigerians

 

Procedure II: Two-Thirds Majority

This procedure is the process that must be followed to alter any part of the Constitution not falling under Procedure I above. For the alteration to be valid it must be passed by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly i.e. the Senate and the House of Representatives. After it is passed by the requisite majority of the Houses, it must then be approved by resolution of the House of Assembly of not less than two-third of all the States in Nigeria. At present, there are 36 States in Nigeria, therefore the proposed amendments must be passed by resolutions of the House of Assembly in at least 24 States.

After the requisite number of States have approved the alterations, the proposed alterations will then be presented before the President for his/her assent to it.

 

Refusal of Assent

For both procedures above, Section 9 is silent on what the process would be if the President refuses to assent to the alterations, however since the alterations is a type of Bill, the process would be the same as in any other type of Bill where presidential assent is not given, which is that it is returned to the National Assembly, and the National Assembly is empowered by the Constitution to overrule the veto of the President. The two Chambers can recall the bill and re-pass it. If the bill is passed in the form it was sent to the President by two-third majority vote in both Chambers, the bill automatically becomes a law even without the signature of the President.

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