Senate Approves President Muhammadu Buhari’s Request For 15 Aides, Life Sentence For Rape And Also Passed 46 Bills Into Law In An Unprecedented Act Of Seriousness
Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Like a demented soldier who just woke up from deep slumber, David Mark’s senate, realising that time is now its greatest enemy, quickly passed 46 bills through the mandatory first, second and third readings before dropping the gavel on them. The 46 bills had earlier been passed at the House of Representatives. The Senate also approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to appoint 15 Special Advisers (SAs) that will assist him in his new assignment as the President and Commander-In-Chief (C-in- C) of the Nigerian Armed Forces. It also remembered the Sexual Offences bill presented by one of its own, Chris Anyanwu, and acting on it, approved the life sentence for the offence of rape.
In passing the bills, the Senate suspended Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Orders and such other orders. The 46 bills, however, were not passed without protest from certain dissenting voices, who argued that hurried passage of bills does not augur well for the country. The opposing senators, who alleged that they had not had time to do thorough study of the bills, noted that it was pertinent that the proposed legislative pieces be subjected to legislative debate at the Senate to allow for necessary adjustments and thoroughness.
Moving a motion for adoption of “special procedure” for concurrence of the transmitted bills from the House, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, argued that the legislative time available to the Senate between now and the end of the legislative term “on or about 3rd of June, 2015 is limited”. Ndoma-Egba, who also argued that time and resources had been expended in processing the bills, added that there was need to pass and forward them to President Buhari for assent. “By mutual consent and legislative reciprocities, the House of Representatives is adopting same special procedure and passing such bills passed by the Senate and transmitted to her for concurrence,” Ndoma-Egba noted.
Ndoma-Egba, therefore, moved for invocation of Order 1(b) of the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended to adopt a special procedure on the bills. He also asked for the suspension of Order 79(1) of the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended) to adopt a Special Procedure; and to pass the bills as having passed through first, second and third readings on the floor of the Senate and concurred to same, respectively. Meanwhile, the Votes and Proceedings containing all the bills as earlier passed by the House are to be produced for adoption at today’s valedictory plenary of the Senate.
The 2015 bills include: Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment etc) Act (Amendment) Bill; Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill; Institute of Chattered Trustees of Nigeria; National Convict and Criminal Records (Registry); Community Service; People’s Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal); Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry Act (Repeal); National Commission for Rehabilitation Act (Repeal).
Maintenance Orders Act (Repeal); Federal Saving Bank Act (Repeal); Loan (State Development) Act (Repeal); Nigerians in Diaspora (Establishment) Commission; Electronic Transactions; Chattered Institute of Statisticians of Nigeria; Nigerian Metallurgical Industry; Federal Audit Commission; National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation Act (Amendment); Nigerian International Financial Centre (Establishment); and Investment and Securities (Amendment). Nigerian Communication Satellite; Federal Capital Territory Education Resources Centre (Establishment etc); Labour Institutions (Establishment); Witness Protection Programme; Institute of Mediators and Conciliators; Legal Education Act (Amendment); National Health Insurance Commission; National Economic Intelligence Committee (Establishment) Act (Repeal); Federal College Dental Technology and Therapy.
Federal Capital College of Nursing and Midwifery; Oaths Act (Amendment); Federal Capital Territory Health Management Board (establishment); Passport ((Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment); Chattered Institute of Management Accountants of Nigeria; Federal Capital Territory Water Board (Establishment etc). Institute of Local Government and Administration; Whistle-blower Protection; Family Economic Advancement Programme (Establishment, etc) Act (Repeal); Family Support Trust Fund Act (Repeal); Nigeria Industrial Development Bank (Guarantee) Act (Repeal). Treasury Management; Legislative Powers and Privileges Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment); Anti-Torture; Lobbyist (Registration and Regulation; National Hospital for Women and Children, Abuja (Establishment etc) Act (Amendment); Nigerian Prison Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment); Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act (Amendment).
Meanwhile, the Senate also voted to ensure that henceforth, sexual offences, including rape, child sex tourism and people who deliberately infect others with HIV/AIDS will attract a life imprisonment. This followed the passing into law of the Sexual Offences Bill 2015 by the Senate yesterday. The Bill, which was sponsored by the Chairman of the Committee on Navy, Senator Chris Anyanwu, is expected to pass concurrence in the House of Representatives today.
The Bill, which had been pending in the Senate since 2013, also prescribes life imprisonment for gang rape, 10years for incest, another 10 years imprisonment for child pornography or more and a fine of N2 million. Presenting the report during the Senate-in-Session yesterday, Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru, explained that the Bill seeks to redefine and consolidate existing laws on sexual offences.
Anyanwu also expressed joy on the passage of the Bill. “(The Bill) seeks to make a comprehensive legislation on sexual offences by criminalising certain acts such as sexual tourism, child pornography and cultural and religious sexual offences in our criminal jurisprudence. “The new bill also provides for effective witness protection programme in order to protect victims and witnesses in trial for sexual offences.
It also provides for compulsory documentation, supervision of sexual offenders and medical treatment for victims, which is in line with the global trend and finally, and most importantly, it provides for adequate and stringent punishments to perpetrators,” she said. In addition, the new sexual offences law criminalises people who deliberately lace drinks with drugs with intent to stupefy and sexually abuse, prostitution of persons with mental disabilities, among others.