BY HENRY UMORU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—Senate said, Tuesday, it was presently scrutinising the 2013 budget, which was signed last week by President Goodluck Jonathan, saying it had distributed copies of the signed bill to all senators to go through and ensure there were no alteration by the executive.
However, the upper legislative chamber said it was yet to receive formal communication from the executive on the proposed amendment of some portions of the budget.
This came just as it distanced itself from the proposed immunity being sought by the House of Representatives for legislators, saying the legislators can only have immunity within the premises of the National Assembly.
Senate, which spoke to newsmen yesterday through its Chairman, Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, said it was ready to address every contending issue in the 2013 national budget once it received the budget under supplementary or appropriation.
He said: “Every budget is an organic system, which means that there will be corrections and those corrections can be done through another appropriation that will be sent as supplementary. That is the only way that I know that such amendments can be done.
“For the moment, each senator is just getting a copy of the signed bill and I’m sure in the next few days, all of us are going to be frantically looking at all the things that are there to make sure that what we see there is what we also passed and then each committee as they go on oversight, will be basing their oversight on that document as it is.”
Immunity for legislators
Speaking on immunity for legislators, which had just passed second reading in the House of Representatives, Senator Abaribe said there was no basis for that. He said the Senate would neither support nor pass such bill.
According to him, legislators’ immunity was only applicable within the premises of the assembly. He added that under the Legislative Powers and Privileges Acts, they were already enjoying it.
He said: “I think the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act already gives every legislator immunity for whatever you said on the floor of the chamber. So that is already a settled law and fact.
“The immunity bill has not been brought to the floor of the Senate yet. I will be very surprised if somebody is asking for immunity outside of the chambers of the Assembly.
“Why will anybody ask for such because we do not want to grant anybody such immunity. I do not think that it will pass the floor of the Senate.”