THE speed was unprecedented. The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, June 3, in a speed that should earn it a mention the Guinness Book of Records, passed 46 bills which had been pending for four years in 10 minutes.
To accomplish the feat, the Nigerian upper legislative chamber had to suspend its Standing Rule. The decision to adopt the 46 bills was sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Ita Enang, chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, who called on his colleagues to invoke Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Order to adopt a Special Procedure on the bills.
He explained that the bills had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, noting that by “mutual consent and legislative reciprocates, the House of Representatives is adopting same special procedure and passing such bills passed by the Senate and transmitted to her for concurrence.”
He, therefore, called for the suspension of Order 79 (1) of the Senate Standing Orders and deemed all the bills as having passed their First, Second and Third Readings. This led to a rowdy session as senators who objected to the procedure being used in passing the bills protested.
Before putting the motion to voice vote, David Mark, Senate president, expressed reservations about the process, saying: “My main problem is that we should be able to read through the bills and know what they are saying.” Although the motion was approved by voice vote, protests still continued.
Mark, in his efforts to douse the tension generated by the situation, appealed to his colleagues to adhere to the rules.
He declared that those opposed to the passage should present a substantive motion on Thursday, June 4, when the votes and proceedings would be considered and passed. “I have ruled. If you disagree, come back with a substantive motion tomorrow,” he stated.
The bills passed are: “Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment) Act Amendment Bill, Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill, Institute of Chartered Trustees of Nigeria Bill, National Convict and Criminal Records Bill, Community Service Bill, People’s Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry Act (Repeal) Bill, Federal Saving Bank Act (Repeal) Bill.
Others are: Loan (State Development) Act (Repeal) Bill, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Bill, among others.
Also, the Senate passed into law, the Sexual Offences Bill (SB. 279) which prescribed life imprisonment for sexual offences including rape, child sex tourism and people who deliberately infect others with HIV/AIDS.
Chris Anyanwu, chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, sponsored the bill which passed to pass concurrence in the House of Representatives on Thursday, June 4.
Among others, the Bill also prescribes life imprisonment for gang rape, 10 years for incest, another 10 years imprisonment for child pornography or more and a fine of two million naira. For sexual crimes, offenders will go to jail for 14 years.
— Jun 15, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT