In what appears to be the most accelerated amendment of Acts which had passed through first, second and got ready for third reading within one week in the history of Nigerian Senate, was the Code of Conduct Bureau Tribunal Act Amendment Bill which was presented for first reading on Tuesday, 12th April, 2016.
The Bill which was brought forward by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP) Delta North, was on Thursday supported by mostly Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a seemingly predetermined manner.
In his lead debate after the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume sought for Senate’s permission for Nwaoboshi to present the bill for consideration, he emphasized that the Act had failed to address fundamental issues which he said had caused injuries on public officials in the past.
“A Bill for an Act to Amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP CJ5 and other related matters, 2016 (second reading), ” Nwaoboshi submitted.
However, Thursday’s session which was chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu witnessed opposition PDP Senators firmly in charge of proceedings even as Saraki’s absence may not be unconnected to his trial at the CCT so as not to incur public criticisms.
Though contributions were mostly dominated by PDP Senators, Dino Melaye (APC) Kogi West proposed a minimum of five Judges as against two, noting that two could take erroneous decision.
In a dissenting submission which was not sustained by the Presiding Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Yahaya Abubakar (APC) Kebbi North cautioned against timing with the possibility that integrity of the Senate might be rubbished if it still goes ahead with the amendments since Saraki was being tried by the Tribunal for false assets declaration.
“Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, I want to caution that the timing for the amendment is wrong even if well intended and it could rubbish the integrity of the Senate if we are to go ahead with it,” he said.
Responding to Abubakar’s reasoning, Ekweremadu emphasised that the amendment was not to exculpate Saraki in his ongoing trials as the law cannot take retrospective effect, but to aid the process of adjudication where decisions of the tribunal would stand the test of time.
“Distinguished Senators, from what Abubakar has said, he was not opposing the amendment, but was only skeptical of public reaction. What we are doing was not to exculpate Saraki, but in the interest of Nigeria’s Judiciary,” Ekweremadu said.
The motion was further referred to the Committee on Judiciary, and to be reported back in two weeks time.