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Gas Flaring: Senate Calls For Stiffer Penalty

Senate yesterday called on the Federal Government to urgently take drastic action against defaulting multinational oil companies still flaring gas in the country

Senate yesterday called on the Federal Government to urgently take drastic action against defaulting multinational oil companies still flaring gas in the country by imposing stiffer penalties against them so as to prevent further wastage of the nation’s natural gas and environmental degradation.

The Upper Legislative Chamber urged the two chambers of the National Assembly to as a matter of priority reconsider the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The Red Chamber also urged oil companies to use alternative means of disposing gas as reinjection of waste gas into the ground for potential harvesting. These were some decisions, arising from a motion sponsored by Senator Ighoyota Amori, and entitled: gas flaring in Nigeria particularly in the Niger Delta region. Amori noted that that the nation flares 17.2 billion metrics tones of natural gas annually. In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, charged the Committees on Gas and Petroleum to fast track work on the PIB to enable the Senate hasten legislation on its passage.

Also yesterday, the Senate mandated its Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes; and Drugs and Narcotics to liaise with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on how the legislature can best support the two institutions to effectively discharge their responsibilities. The Parliament also advised the anti-graft agencies to assert its independence from external influence to avoid being used as agents of political witch-hunt.

It also directed the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to review all laws relating to economic and financial crimes and corruption so as to enhance speedy dispensation of justice on issues bordering on corruption. The legislators also asked its Committee on Information and National Orientation to embark on deliberate civic education for the citizenry, as well as the youths from elementary to tertiary institutions.

These were sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, and entitled: the need for legislative support to government’s anti-corruption drive. Bwacha noted that corruption had done huge damage to Nigeria’s image for many decades and consequently inflicted hardship on millions of Nigerians.

He regretted that: “corruption has damaged our individual and collective image externally”. Bwacha observed that the menace of corruption is not only restricted to the political class and public servants but has also been prevalent in civil service.

While noting the need to encourage President Muhammadu Buhari to continue in the fight against corruption, Bwacha, however, advised Buhari to make the fight transparent, devoid of sentiment or political witch-hunt. Also yesterday, the Senate lamented the continued unchecked rapid population explosion in Nigeria and urged the Federal Government to urgently take steps not only to checkmate the development but also to ensure that the trend is reversed.

It also mandated its Committee on National Identity Management Commission to liaise closely with the National Population Commission (NPC) with a view to articulating a clear policy on population to check the increasing growth rate in the country.




– Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja

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