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House Moves To Make Failure To Honour Summons A Criminal Offence

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SAN FRANCISCO, February 20, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives, Wednesday, passed for second reading a bill, when signed into law, would make failure to honour summons by the lower chamber of the National Assembly a criminal offence.

The accelerated passage of the bill was a direct consequences of the refusal of the embattled chairman of the Pension Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina, to honour the summon by the Senate.

The bill seeks to make it a criminal offence for any person summoned by the House not to appear before it within 30 days.

Similarly, it seeks sanctions against the Inspector General of Police, should he fail to arrest such an erring person within 21 days.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, the sponsor, Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe ( PDP-Imo ) ,said the bill was not directed at any person in particular.

"This bill is about the institution and not aimed at any person in particular," he said.

He said with the bill, any person who failed to make him or herself available after 30 days of being invited by the House would be deemed to have committed an offence.

According to him, if the bill becomes law, the House would not need to urge the president or any other person to carry out the invitations of the House.

He argued that the bill is aimed at preserving the sanctity and integrity of the institution.

Hon. Abubakar Momoh ( ACN-Edo) who supported the motion, said that there was no need to include the bill in the Constitution as it was done in other countries.

" I do not think that we should include this piece of legislation in the Constitution," he said.

Also supporting the bill, Hon. Nicholas Osai ( PDP-Delta) said that the bill was in order as it would give the National Assembly the power to enforce its resolutions which had often times being disobeyed.

According to him, the bill is aimed to protect the country's democratic norms.

In his submission, Hon. Abiodun Awoleye ( ACN-Oyo) said that the bill was timely as it would go a long way to check the flagrant disobedience of resolutions and summons originating from the House.

Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa ( PDP-Taraba ) urged members to allow the bill pass second reading to the committee level where the nitty gritty would be handled.