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Senate Passes Harmonized FoI Bill

Source: EMMA UCHE, THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, May 24, (THEWILL) – With just about fourteen (14) days to the end of the current Senate term, the Senate today finally passed the harmonized version of the Freedom of Information Bill (FoIB). The effort which was unanimously voted for came on the heels of the adoption of the report of the conference committee of both chambers; the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The conference had reconciled the two different versions of the bill which was passed earlier by the two chambers.

However, the clean copy of the bill for President Goodluck Jonathan’s assent would have to wait until the House of Representatives adoptS the report of the conference committee.

Chairman of the conference committee and spokesman of the senate, Senator Ayogu Eze who presented the report of the committee said the committee met on Thursday May 19, 2011, to harmonize the areas of differences in the two versions of the bill.

According to him, “after a thorough scrutiny of the two versions of the bill, the conference committee recommended the adoption of the House version of the bill in all clauses except clauses 1, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 14 where the senate version were adopted.”

The Senate President while congratulating his colleagues for the passage of the bill noted that the bill had generated a lot of controversies and thanked God it was finally resolved.

“This particular bill has generated a lot of controversies but finally thank God it is through and we hope that all the parties involved will be responsible so that this bill will be beneficial to everybody,” he said.

Nonetheless, an elated Eze dedicated the successful passage of the bill to journalist, for their persistence and perseverance, which culminated to the passage of the bill at last.

Addressing a press conference after the plenary, he declared; “I want to thank all the people that have crusaded for the passage of the FoI bill. I congratulate the Senate, I congratulate the Nigerian people and I congratulate you. To some extent I want to dedicate that bill to journalists especially those covering the Senate and the National Assembly because you have been asking questions and insisting that we pass that bill and pass it on time. We also want to assure Nigerians that in the same vein we are committed to passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“I believe that the House should be able to concur to that bill because the conference committee had a harmonious meeting and we all passed and signed the report together. The difference I think in this dispensation is that the President also like the NASS has made the commitment that he will sign the bill if it comes to him.

“So, we don’t have any doubt that the President will sign the bill once it gets to his desk. Besides, the same way we are responsible to Nigerians the President is responsible to Nigerians. I have read in several places where the President made a commitment that if he gets the bill he would sign it,” Eze stated.