The House of Representatives on Wednesday raised security concerns over a bill seeking to allow states to have control over shipping and navigation in the maritime sector, causing the sponsor, Onofiok Luke, to withdraw the proposal.
The legislation was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to Remove Item 36 (Maritime Shipping and Navigation) from the Exclusive Legislative List and insert it in the Concurrent Legislative List.’
After Luke’s presentation at the second reading, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, however, warned that the House should not just approve the bill without considering the security implications of the proposal.
Luke noted that there are other bills seeking to devolve powers from the Federal Government to the states.
Wase, however, stated, “The mood of the House is very good but this is on national security and economy, and you have to give us reasons. This is not like the other ones.”
Luke, however, urged Wase to allow the bill to pass second reading and refer it to the Committee on Constitution Review chaired by the Deputy Speaker for further scrutiny.
The Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, warned that the proposal, if approved, would cause “serious problem” for the country. He, therefore, urged the sponsor to step down the bill instead of insisting on its consideration.
Luke eventually asked that the bill be stepped down.
Meanwhile, a bill passed by the Senate and transmitted to the House for concurrence, which seeks to prohibit sexual harassment especially by lecturers in higher institutions passed second reading on Wednesday.
The legislation was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to make Comprehensive Provisions for the Prohibition and Punishment of Sexual Harassment of Students by Educators in Tertiary Educational Institution; and for Related Matters.’
Also, a bill sponsored by a member of the House, Yusuf Gagdi, to raise the retirement age of workers in the judiciary passed second reading.
It was titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) to Increase the Retirement Age of Judicial Officers; and for Related Matters.’
In another development, the House Committee on Banking and Currency, on Wednesday, laid its report on ‘Allegations of Unjustified, Illegal and Premeditated Freezing of Bank Accounts by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).’
The House had on October 20, 2020, resolved to investigate the allegation that the CBN has flagged over 5000 private and corporate accounts in Deposit Money Banks.
After adopting a motion titled ‘Allegations of Unjustifiable, Inhuman, Illegal and Premeditated Freezing of Bank Accounts in Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria’, the House, among other resolutions, mandated the committee to “immediately invite all relevant and affected stakeholders to a public investigation of the circumstances surrounding the freezing of all accounts currently frozen by the CBN in Nigeria.”
The committee was to also determine “any cases of contraventions of statutory provisions by the CBN in the freezing of accounts and any verifiable cases of victimisation or vendetta against account holders by the CBN in the freezing of their accounts,” among others.
The panel would also determine whether appropriate sanctions would be required against erring staff of the CBN, including the governor, “especially when the administration of related provisions of the act is in the governor’s name.”
Also on Wednesday, the Committees on Anti–Corruption and Commerce laid its report on the ‘Bill for an Act to Establish Chartered Institute of Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiners of Nigeria, to Provide for the Regulation and Control of its Membership and Promote the Practice of Forensics and Fraud Examiners in Nigeria.’
At the public hearing on the bill held on May 27, 2021, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria had differed on the proposal in their separate presentations. While ICAN opposed the bill, ANAN supported it.