How to Submit a Petition
One of the fundamental principles of the constitution is the right it accords citizens to petition the parliament for redress of grievances. This right, which is the only way individuals can directly bring their complaints before the parliament was recognized in Magna Carta of 1215, and the Bill of Rights of 1689 to extricate citizens from the overbearing powers and influence of the State.
A petition simply put, is a formal request for action from one or more people to the parliament to redress rights violations, administrative breaches or infractions committed by public officers.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions is a very important Committee of the Legislature whose activities and work have direct impact on citizens. The Committee is empowered to take on wide ranging issues provided they relate to matters on which the House has the authority to act. Each year, the House of Representatives receive hundreds of petitions from several quarters on a variety of matters, which are processed by the Committee on Public Petitions on its behalf.
There is no cost required for submitting a petition and the Committee is devoid of technical and judicial legalese, making it an attractive option for any body seeking urgent or quick remedial intervention to approach.
Anybody (private and Corporate) can petition to the National Assembly either by himself or through a representative such as a legal practitioner. It is however important that the petitioner or his representative must attend the investigative hearing and defend the petition.
There is no special format a petition must assume. However, it is expected that a petition must be intelligible and contain relevant information as provided in the checklist below:
Note that a petition must:
- Be directly addressed to the House of Representatives.
- Refer to a matter, which is within the powers of the House to intervene (e.g, matters before a competent court or those which are the responsibility of private entities may not be made the subject of a petition to be presented to the House of Representatives).
- Identify the petitioner or petitioners, then a statement of grievance or complaint explaining or underlying the request for the House intervention.
- Set out the prayer or request for action by succinctly stating what specific action the petitioners wish the House to take in response to the grievance.
- Written or printed on paper in language which is respectful and temperate in nature.
- Written in English, but if written in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a certified translation, including the contact details of the translator.
- Free of erasures or interlineations.
- Not contain attachments, letters, affidavits, photos or supporting documents. (The Committee will request the petitioner to provide any document or material, which it deems necessary for the proper determination of the petitioner’s case).
- Consist only of original, handwritten signatures (printed, photocopied, faxes or electronic signatures are not accepted).
- Contain all signatures on pages, which detail at least the request for action exactly as on the first page of the petition.
SUBMITTING A PETITION
There is no cost for presentation or submission of a petition or filing of any other process.
It is only a lawmaker that can present a petition to the House.
An electronic petitioning system is not yet available; every petition is expected to be submitted by post, courier services or directly by the petitioner to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, National Assembly Complex, Three Arms Zone, Garki- Abuja.