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Pro And Anti Saraki Senators Clash As NASS Takes Over President’s Power On CCB/CCT Control

sarakidocked

Ayodele Afolabi

ABUJA, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The National Assembly has made final legislation in taking over power vested on the President in the extant laws of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act by giving itself additional powers on the Bureau instead of the President through amendment of section 18(1) and (2) of the Act.

Section 18 (1) and (2) of the CCB/CCT Act under power of exemption state thus: ‘ The President may by order exempt any cadre of public officers from the provisions of this Act if it appears to him that their position in public service is below the rank which it considers appropriate for the application of those provisions.

“The President may by order confer on the Bureau such additional powers as may appear to it to be necessary to enable it to discharge more effectively the functions conferred upon it under this Act”.

But the National Assembly in its amendment of the Act, earlier passed by the House of Representatives and concurred to, by the Senate yesterday amidst emotional outbursts from senators, substituted “President” with the “National Assembly” in section 18(2), reading “to enable the National Assembly do the conferment of additional powers (if need be) on the Bureau instead of the President” and “him” with “it” in section 18(1)

The President’s power on appointment of Chairman and members of the Tribunal as contained in section 20 (4) of the Act, was also whittled down by the federal lawmakers in their amendment by now subjecting such appointments to Senate confirmation.

Aside that, membership of the tribunal as contained in section 20(2) of the principal act was also increased from 3 to 5, by the National Assembly through the amendments upon which they made it mandatory for at least three out of the five members to be present at any sitting of the tribunal .

Another amendment effected in the act which drew emotions from Senators was section 3 (d) which now makes it compulsory for Code of Conduct Bureau to bring to the notice of any public officer any case or breach or non-compliance to the provisions of the Act before resorting to the tribunal for prosecution as it did with the ongoing prosecution of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki over alleged false assets declaration.

Highlight of the amendment reads: “To make it compulsory for any case of breach or non-compliance to be brought to the notice of the person concerned by the CCB to enable him or her, make a written admission of such breach or non –compliance and where such is done, there shall be no reference to the Tribunal”.

An amendment along with others particularly section 18(2) that led to serious division in the senate largely along the lines of pro and anti Saraki.

While Senators Ahmad Lawan (APC Yobe North), Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North East), Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi North) etc, spiritedly rose against passing the bill, others like Senators Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Eyinaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu South) and others, vehemently supported the passage of the bill.

An ugly development that degenerated further with the failure of the damage control measure hurriedly taken by the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), to step down further consideration of the bill by the Senate with the rejection of his motion to that effect by the pro saraki senators across party lines.

Ndume in the motion said: “Before we put this on the order paper, actually it originated from what the chairman said because is a House bill which is before us for concurrence and because of the little considerations we referred it to the committee as he rightly said and if we look at it there’s the need for us to do certain things to this Act.

“But I observed that emotions are coming up which is human and that’s why I personally again stand up to say if this is the case we will decide whether to stand it down and then resolve and take a look at it. So I now move the motion that in view of emotional outburst of Senators over consideration of this bill, that it should be stepped down to another legislative day”.

In his own remarks on the controversy, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the session said: “This bill came as a House bill and like other House bill, we have to concur but in reference to this we decided to send it to the committee so that they can have another look at it, we would have passed it that same day. But we send it to the committee and he came up this morning.

“The question was put whether we should consider it and the answer was yes. So, we didn’t just consider it because we wanted to consider it, the question was properly put whether we should go to the committee on the whole to consider it and everybody said yes”.

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