From Fred Itua, Abuja
SENATE, yesterday, initiated fresh moves to whittle down the powers of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
In a Bill tagged “Code of Conduct Act Cap C15 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2016”, and sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaboshi, Senate is seeking to transfer control of both the CCT and CCB from the Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) to the National Assembly or Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).
Prior to the reading of the bill for the first time, a mild drama played out when the first Order Paper of the day circulated to newsmen was withdrawn. In the withdrawn order paper,the Code of Conduct bill was omitted, but included in the copy distributed to lawmakers.
The second Order Paper was distributed to newsmen few minutes after the lawmakers concluded a closed door session, where the Bill ought to have been read for the first time, contrary to parliamentary procedure that it should be read in plenary.
Daily Sun gathered from some lawmakers that the new Bill was a product of a meeting held at the residence of the Senate president in Maitama on Monday night by Like Minds Senators.
A lawmaker, who was at the meeting and privy to the details of the meeting which lasted for over two hours, said it was convened at the instance of the leader of pro-Saraki Like Minds group, Dino Melaye.
But explaining the rationale behind the Amendment Bill, Nwaoboshi, said the Senate was ready to give it speedy hearing, with the hope that it would be passed before the expiration of the ongoing assets falsification trial of Saraki.
He refuted claims that the Bill had nothing to do with the ongoing trial of Saraki by the CCT.
But his refutal is contrary to a statement credited to a Senator from Bauchi state, Isa Misau, who, in an interview a fortnight ago, fingered the SGF, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, as the brain behind the CCT trial of Saraki.
Meanwhile, immediate-past Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly and a serving member of the House of Representatives, Rasaq Atunwa has declared that CCT lacks the constitutional power to try him.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, the lawmaker described the trial as persecution, rather than prosecution. He said elements within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who were against the emergence of Saraki as Senate President were behind his travails.
Atunwa said: “In a way, the murky confusion of jurisdiction of Code of Conduct Tribunal has been encouraged by the Supreme Court.
“The Code of Conduct Tribunal is a tribunal with regulatory and disciplinary function, so we are in this quagmire because the Supreme Court encouraged it through that faulty judgement.