Amendment of CCT, CCB Act begins as Senators approve review
THE Senate has unanimously endorsed the amendment of the Code of Conduct Act to remove the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Presidency.
With the Senate approval and for legislative processing, arrangements to amend the Code of Conduct Act to ensure fair hearing for accused persons as well as remove the powers of the Code of Conduct Tribunal from adjudicating on criminal matters, have begun.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, was absent at yesterday's plenary for undisclosed reasons as Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, presided. Saraki is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, following a 13- count charge levelled against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, bordering on alleged corruption and false declaration of assets. With the fresh initiative and when passed into law, the bill would whittle down the powers of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). The Code of Conduct Act CAP C15 LFN 2004 bill, which was sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Peter Nwaboshi, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Delta North, was first read, Tuesday, and had passed first reading.
It also scaled second reading and was referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions as well as Committee on Judicairy, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which are expected to report back to the Senate in the next two weeks. Amendment has nothing to do with Saraki's trial— Ekweremadu Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, however, explained that the amendment was not intended to influence the trial of Saraki for allegedly making false asset declaration. Ekweremadu said: “Let me just say that this bill absolutely has nothing to do with the proceedings going on at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in which the Senate President is involved because his trial has commenced, as you are aware, and if you look at the commencement of the bill, last paragraph says 'this bill maybe sighted as a Code of Conduct Bureau Tribunal Act amendment bill, 2016.'
“That means the bill is not being made retroactive as to affect the proceedings at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Certainly, it has nothing to do with it. We are only doing our work as parliamentarians and it is our responsibility to ensure that there is justice for all at all time and we must not be afraid or scared to do the job which the constitution has given us. “I believe it is in the course of our duty that this amendment is being proposed because the Code of Conduct Tribunal has come to stay and with all intent and purposes, we support the tribunal, we support the bureau but we would also make sure that in doing their work, there is also fairness, equity and all the principles enunciated in chapter four of our constitution dealing with human rights.”
Senators hail proposal Earlier in his lead debate on the general principle of the bill, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi said: “The amendment of Section three of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act is to give every public officer appearing before the bureau fair hearing as provided for under Section 36 (2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.'' Senators, in their contributions, hailed the proposal and urged the Senate to speedily pass the bill in order to restructure the CCB and CCT for effective and efficient performance.