Monday, August 2, 2021

Can The Same Constitution Promulgation Bill Be Re-Introduced In The National Assembly?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Once a Bill is rejected by the National Assembly it cannot be re-introduced unless the National Assembly rescinds its decision. Standing Order 29(3) provides the possibility of rescinding a decision if the motion is moved during the particular session. At the moment there is no provision in the Standing Orders providing for the rescinding of a decision earlier taken during a preceding session.

Hence a Speaker of the National Assembly has the only option of relying on Standing Order 8 to make such a decision. The standing order reads:

“(1) In all cases where matters are not expressly provided for by these Standing Orders, any questions on procedure or order shall be decided by the Speaker;”

“(2) The decision made in paragraph (1) shall be based on:

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a)  the Constitution

b) Statute Law

c)   the precedents, customs, procedures, traditions and practices of the Assembly; and

d)  the precedents, customs, procedures, traditions, and practices of other jurisdictions to the extent that they are applicable to the Assembly;”

“(3) The Speaker’s ruling shall be final on all questions of procedure and order;”

Speaker Sanneh made mention of the following among other things in his ruling:

“Accordingly, the life of the said Bill as far as the Standing Orders of this Assembly are concerned is dead and can only be awakened by re-introduction either by the executive or by the member of the Assembly in accordance with section 101 of the 1997 Constitution and Clause 62(1) of the Standing Orders of the Assembly.”

The Speaker should rethink by recalling Standing Order 8 which gives him absolute power to allow a motion to be moved to rescind a decision that could breed new life into the Bill.

The Speaker’s second error is to claim that the Bill could be re-introduced after his ruling. No dead Bill could be re-introduced. What is possible is to prepare a new Bill which must go through the process of publication in the Gazette for no less than three months and ten days before its introduction for consideration by the National Assembly members.

This will be followed by a process in the National Assembly that would lead to a first, second and third reading which would lead to a referendum by the IEC within six months, if the process of getting three quarters majority is uninterrupted.

The Answer Is In The Negative

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