Reps move for councils’ autonomy, urge action on illegal immigration

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The House of Representatives has passed the second reading of a bill that would grant full autonomy to the third tier of government in the conduct of elections for chairmen, vice-chairmen, and councilors.

Titled “A Bill for an Act to alter Section 7 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and for related matters”, the sponsor, Dachung Musa Bagos (PDP, Plateau), said the intendment of the proposed legislation was to instill democracy at the local government level and institute a law that would provide guidelines for periodic elections.

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“Essentially, this bill seeks to provide for election and tenure of office for local government chairmen/councilors and also prescribe the mode of exercising legislative powers of the local government council,” he stated.

He said the bill also “seeks among other things to alter section 7 (1) of the principal act by substituting section 7 (1) with new section 7 (1) (a) –(2) to provide for the office of the chairman and vice-chairman of local government as stipulated in the bill.”

The provisions according to him include, “qualification and disqualification of chairman, declaration of assets and liabilities, oath of office and election of chairman. Others include nomination and election of vice-chairman, removal of chairman or vice-chairman from office, tenure of office of chairman and election of councilors.”

The lawmaker noted that the current provisions in the constitution were nebulous and susceptible to abuse because “it did not provide any guidelines.”

Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that “the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed, and accordingly the government of every state shall, subject to section 8 of this constitution, ensure their existence under a law, which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”

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Bagos, who represents Jos South/Jos East, submitted that when passed into law, the piece of legislation would put an end to the practice whereby state governor dismisses and appoints local government chairman at will without recourse to any law.

The bill was consequently unanimously passed when Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila put it to vote.

Besides, the legislative chamber yesterday urged the authorities to immediately review the immigration procedure with a view to restricting illegal immigration and repatriating illegal aliens residing in the country.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Rotimi Agunsoye at plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the House urged the Comptroller General of immigrations and the Comptroller General of Customs to exercise full control over the movement of persons and goods along the nation’s international borders.

Agunsoye (Lagos: APC) expressed concern over the continued influx of illegal immigrants mostly of African descent into the country, who gained easy access through the various porous land borders.

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