Section 108 and 109 of the 1999 Constitution: Circumstances where a Governor/ Commissioner of a State Can Attend Meeting of the State House of Assembly and Situations where Members of the House Shall Vacate their Seat

Governor

The 1999 Constitution

Section 108 (1)

The Governor of a State may attend a meeting of a House of Assembly of the State either to deliver an address on State affairs or to make such statement on the policy of government as he may consider to be of importance to the State

(This section gives the Governor of a State the option to attend a meeting of the State House of Assembly. Note the use of the word “may”, thus, the Governor is not mandated to attend these meetings. Whenever the Governor attends such a meeting, it should be to deliver an address on the affairs or policy of the State which he or she may consider important to the state.)


Section 108 (2)

A Commissioner of the Government of a State shall attend the House of Assembly of the State if invited to explain to the House of Assembly the conduct of his Ministry, and in particular when the affairs of that Ministry are under discussion.

(This section says that a State Commissioner can only attend a meeting of the State House of Assembly if invited by the House. Also, the invitation should be to express the conduct of his or her Ministry when the topic of discussion relates to the affairs of his or her Ministry.)


Section 108 (3)

Nothing in this section shall enable any person who is not a member of a House of Assembly to vote in that House or in any of its committees.

(By this section, although the Governor and State Commissioner are able to attend a meeting of the State House of Assembly upon an invitation, however, this invitation does not give the Governor or the State Commissioner the right to vote in such meeting.)


Section 109 (1)

A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if;

(A member of the State House of Assembly must resign from office in the following situations; )

Section 109 (1)(a)

he becomes a member of another legislative house;

(If such member of the State House of Assembly becomes a member of another legislative House. Legislative house in this section includes another State House of Assembly, or a higher legislative house such as the Senate and House of Representatives; )


Section 109 (1)(b)

any other circumstances arise that, if he were not a member of that House, would cause him to be disqualified for election as such a member;

(This means that once a member of the State House of Assembly has any of the conditions stated in Section 107 -which lists situations that disqualifies a person from being elected as a member of the State House of Assembly-, s/he must vacate office.)


Section 109 (1)(c)

he ceases to be a citizen of Nigeria;

(If such person is no longer a Nigerian citizen.)


Section 109 (1)(d)

he becomes President, Vice-President, Governor, Deputy Governor or a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a Commissioner of the Government of a State or a Special Adviser;

(When a member of the State House of Assembly holds any of these positions i.e President, Vice President, Governor, Deputy Governor or Minister or Commissioner, s/he must vacate office; ‘


Section 109 (1)(e)

save as otherwise prescribed by this Constitution, he becomes a member of a commission or other body established by this Constitution or by any other law;

(S/he becomes a member of a commission or any other body created by the constitution or any other law.)


Section 109 (1)(f)

without just cause he is absent from meetings of the House of Assembly for a period amounting in the aggregate to more than one-third of the total number of days during which the House meets in any one year;

(This means that a member of the House of Assembly must not be absent from 1/3 of the meeting days scheduled to hold in a year, except s/he has a just cause to be absent. Where a member is absent for 1/3 of the meeting days without just cause, s/he must resign. Example, if the House met 210 times in a year, and a member has been absent for more than 70 meetings, then such member may vacate his seat if s/he does not have just cause to be absent.)


Section 109 (1)(g)

being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected:

(This means that if a member of the House becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the elected term, s/he has to resign from the House of Assembly. Example, if ADD sponsored A’s election into becoming a member of the State House of Assembly and before that term which A won the seat through sponsorship of ADD, A joins another political party called, ANT, A shall vacate his seat as a member of the House; )


Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored; or

(This means that the member will not be asked to vacate office due to change of political party if the change of party was because of a division in the former political party or if the former and new political party come together to form a new political party. ; )


Section 109 (1)(h)

the Speaker of the House of Assembly receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating the provisions of section 110 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of the member.

(A member of the House shall resign when a recall process as stated in Section 110 of the Constitution on such member has been concluded by the INEC and a certificate has been handed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly.)


Section 109 (2)

The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.

(This means that the Speaker of the House of Assembly must first present satisfactory evidence to its respective House in order to give effect to the provisions of 109(1) on the vacation of a member of its House. Thus, if the other members of the House decide that the evidence provided by the Speaker is not satisfactory, there will be no vacation of office by a member.)


Section 109 (3)

A member of a House of Assembly shall be deemed to be absent without just cause from a meeting of the House of Assembly unless the person presiding certifies in writing that he is satisfied that the absence of the member from the meeting was for a just cause.

(This means that there are no laid down rules of what can be a just cause from absence at meetings of the House. It is up to the discretion of the presiding member of the meeting, which a member was absent at, to determine whether the absence was for just cause and such presiding member has to certify in writing that s/he is satisfied with the cause for absence given by the member.)

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