Section 67 and 68 of the 1999 Constitution: Circumstances Where a Member of the National Assembly Shall Vacate His Seat

Member

The 1999 Constitution

Section 67 (1)

The President may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly or any meeting of either House of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs including fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance.

(This section gives the President the option to attend a joint meeting of the Senate and House of  representative or a separate meeting of the two houses. Note the use of the word “may”, thus, the President is not mandated to attend these meetings. Whenever the President attends such a meeting, it should be to deliver an address of national importance or relating to the affairs of the nation such as tax, budget allocations, revenue, etc.)


Section 67 (2)

A Minister of the Government of the Federation attend either House of the National Assembly if invited to express to the House the conduct of his Ministry, and in particular when the affairs of that Ministry are under discussion.

(This section says that a Minister can only attend a meeting of the Senate or House of Representative if invited by either of the two 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. Thus, a Minister of Education should not be invited to express conduct of the affairs of the Minister of Information.)


Section 67 (3)

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

(This section reaffirms the position that only a member of the Senate or House of Representative can vote in their respective House. Thus, a member of the Senate cannot vote in the House of Representative and vice versa. From this section, we see that although the President and Minister (upon invitation) can attend a meeting of the Senate or House of Representative, such attendance does not give them the right to vote in such meetings. )


Section 68 (1)

A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if –

(This section gives instances where a member of the Senate or House of Representative must vacate the seat, i.e., resign from office. The following are the instances:)


Section 68 (1)(a)

he becomes a member of another legislative house.

(Where a member of the Senate becomes a member of the House of Representative, s/he must resign from the Senate and vice versa. Also, legislative house can also mean the state legislative house, i.e., the House of Assembly.)


Section 68 (1)(b)

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

(This means that ones a member of the Senate or House of Assembly has any of the conditions stated in Section 66, s/he must vacate office.)

Section 68 (1)(c)

he ceases to be a citizen of Nigeria;

(S/he is no longer a Nigerian citizen)


Section 68 (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 Senate holds any of these position, s/he must vacate office.)


Section 68 (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 created by the constitution or any other law.)


Section 68 (1)(f)

without just cause he is absent from meetings of the House of which he is a member 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 Senate or House of Representative must not be absent from 1/3 of the meeting days scheduled to hold in a year. Where a member is absent for 1/3 of the meeting days s/he must resign. However, where the member has just cause to be absent, s/he wont have to resign from the Senate or House of Representative. )


Section 68 (1)(g)

being a person whose election to the House 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 Senate or House of Representative.)

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; 

(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 68 (1)(h)

the President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives receives a certificate under the hand of the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission stating that the provisions of section 69 of this Constitution have been complied with in respect of the recall of that member.

(A member of the House shall resign when a recall process on such member has been concluded by the INEC and a certificate has been handed to the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Representative.)


Section 68 (2)

The President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, shall give effect to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, so however that the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House concerned that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of that member.

(This means that the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives must first present satisfactory evidence to its respective House in order to give effect to the provisions of 68(1) on the vacation of a member of its House. Thus, if the other members of the particular House decides that the evidence is not satisfactory, there will be no vacation of office by a member.)


Section 68 (3)

A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall be deemed to be absent without just cause from a meeting of the House of which he is a member, 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 is 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.)

Section 66 and 67 of the 1999 Constitution: Qualification for Membership of National Assembly

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