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House Ban Individuals From Publishing Acts Of National Assembly

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ABUJA, November 17, (THEWILL) - Worried by the mutilations and alterations in the Acts of National Assembly, the House of Representatives Thursday directed the federal government to ensure that only the Federal Government Printer is given accreditation to publish laws passed by the parliament.

It has also urged the Federal Ministry of Information “to complete urgently the Federal Government Printing Press in Abuja, the construction of which started in 1996.”

These decisions were taken at today’s plenary following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) and 14 others titled: “mutilation, alteration and interlineations of Acts of the National Assembly.”

While leading debate on the motion, Apiafi, noted that the National Assembly is the institution vested with the power to make, alter and repeal laws in the country and assented to by the President.

She maintained that laws passed by the National Assembly are “the pillar on which democracy and the rule of law rests,” but expressed worry that the rampant and deliberate mutilations of the Acts of the National Assembly by unauthorised printers has “made it almost impossible to know the actual laws passed by the National Assembly.”

The lawmaker cited various instances of omissions, alterations, mutilations and interlineations in the Evidence Act, the Electoral Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, warning that the consequences and concomitant effects occasioned by such mutilation of the Acts of Parliament “will lead to wrongful interpretation of the law.”

Supporting the motion, Hon. Patrick Ikhariale (PDP, Edo) said Acts of the National Assembly are being mutilated by people “who feel they have a printing business” adding that a drive along some roads in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory alone will reveal to anyone the magnitude of the problem at hand.

He lamented that in some cases enactments yet to be completed by the National Assembly are already compiled and being sold on the streets.

“Lawyers quote copiously from these wrong versions,” he said, adding that the Federal Government Press ought to be the only one authorised to print enactments from the Parliament.

Also supporting the motion, chairman committee on health, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) said the action of printers had made it almost impossible for people to decipher which version of an Act is the authentic one and it was posing a problem to most lawyers on which versions to use in court.

Another lawmaker, Hon. Peter Edeh (PDP, Ebonyi) while expressing his view on the motion said it is necessary to strengthen the motion and make it more forceful. “We should make the motion stronger and criminalise illegal printing of the laws of the National Assembly.”

The House in adopting the motion, which received unanimous approval also directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) to gazette all bills signed into law by the President and forward copies to the Chief Justice of the Federation, President of the Court of Appeal and all relevant agencies.