Senate makes history, passes 46 bills in 10 minutes

By The Rainbow

The Senate made history on Wednesday when it suspended its Standing Rule and in a dramatic fashion passed 46 bills which had been pending before it for four years.

The decision to adopt the 46 bills was sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang who called on the Red Chamber to invoke Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Order to adopt a Special Procedure on the bills.

 The senator from Cross River State 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.”

Enang said the Senate had expended much resource on the processing of the bills and that they were needed to be passed before the 7th Senate is dissolved.Consequently, the Senate invoked Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended to adopt a special procedure on the bills for concurrence.

Besides, the Senate suspended Order 79 (1) of the Senate Standing Orders, which portrayed all the bills as having passed first, second and third readings on the floor of the senate and concurred, as well as reproduced and circulated to senators.

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, Senate President, David Mark 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 today 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), 2015; Nigerians in Diaspora (Establishment) Commission, 2015, and Electronic Transactions Bill, 2015.

The rest include the Chartered Institute of Statisticians of Nigeria, 2015; Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill, 2014; Federal Audit Commission Bill, 2015; National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation Act (Amendment,) Bill; Nigerian International Financial Centre (Establishment, etc) Bill, and the Investment and Securities (Amendment) Bill.

The upper chamber also announced it would  take a decision on the controversy that greeted the refusal by former President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the amendments made in the constitution at its Thursday sitting (Today).

The Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, who made the announcement, said i the legislative body would consider the outstanding amendment to the 1999 Constitution (as amended)  before going into  valedictory session.

The Sexual Offences Bill prescribes life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of sexual offences like rape and child sexual tourism, among others.

Some of the offences listed in the bill included rape, child sex tourism and people who deliberately infect others with HIV/AIDS.

Chairman of the Committee on Navy, Senator Chris Anyanwu, sponsored the bill, which is expected to pass concurrence in the House of Representatives on Thursday (today).

The bill also prescribes 10 years imprisonment for incest; 10 years imprisonment for child pornography or a fine of N2m, while those who engage in sex abuse will go to jail for 14 years.

The Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru, said the bill sought to redefine and consolidate existing laws on sexual offences.

Anyanwu said the new sexual offences law had criminalised actions of “people who deliberately lace drinks with drugs with intent to stupefy and sexually abuse persons with mental disabilities, among others”

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