… SERAP drags Senate to UN
By Sunday Ani
HUMAN rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the current move by members of the National Assembly to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Acts as an exercise in futility because it violates the constitution of the country.
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and copied to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Falana urged the House of Representatives not to lend its weight to the illegal amendment of the Act.
He further reminded the lawmakers about the Supreme Court pronouncement that the National Assembly lacks the legislative powers to enact laws, which have similar constitutional provision.
He said: “Where the provision in the Act is within the legislative powers of the National Assembly
but the constitution is found to have already made the same or similar provision, then the new provision
will be regarded as invalid for duplication and or inconsistency and therefore inoperative.
The same fate will befall any provision of the Act, which seeks to enlarge, curtail or alter any existing provision of the constitution. The provision or provisions will be treated as unconstitutional and therefore null and void.”
He declared that even though the House of Representatives has not commenced deliberations on the Bill for the amendment of the Acts, the rush by the Senate to amend the Acts having passed it for the second reading barely 48 hours after its presentation by its sponsor, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, simply because of the ongoing trial of Dr. Saraki, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over the alleged failure to declare his assets as governor of Kwara State, is insensitive, suspicious, self serving and opportunistic.
Meanwhile, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, asking him to “use your good offices to, urgently, request the National Assembly of Nigeria, specifically the Senate, to withdraw amendments to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, which, if passed into law, would seriously weaken the act, undermine the fight against corruption in the country, exacerbate extreme poverty and violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
In the petition dated April 15, 2016 and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP expressed “serious concern that the Senate would, any moment from now, pass amendments to Public Officers Protection Act; Administration of Criminal Justice Act; Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act with the political objective of securing a soft-landing for Saraki, who is facing corruption charges.”
The petition copied to Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against corruption reads in part: “SERAP considers these amendments to be in bad faith, patently an abuse of legislative powers, politically biased, and demonstrably unjustified in a democratic and representative society governed by the rule of law, and incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations and commitments, particularly the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria had ratified.”
However, the Nigeria Need Positive Change Group (NNPCG) has described calls for the stoppage of amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act as self serving, callous and anti-people.
The group in a statement by its National Secretary, Jide Jokotade, described the call as hypocrisy of the ruling elite.
It added that the wisdom of the lawmakers is commendable. “After all the apex court in the land, the Supreme Court, had in its judgment said the CCT is a court of sort, therefore it must be seen to be neutral and not to be taking instructions from politicians.”