By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— THE Federal Government, yesterday, kicked against moves by the Senate to create two new agencies with functions already being performed by existing establishments and rejected the bills making provisions for them.
The rejection of the bill by the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, came at the public hearing held by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on four different bills.
The rejected bills include the one on Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017 (SB. 391) sponsored by Senator David Umaru (APC, Niger East), who is the Chairman of the Committee and the one on National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation (Establishment etc) Bill, 2017 sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani, APC Kaduna Central.
Represented by an Assistant Director in the Legal Drafting Department in the Ministry, Mr. Patrick Eta Eyoh, the AGF said the intendment of the Bill on Revised Laws of the Federation, if allowed to sail through, would impinge negatively on the functions of Nigeria Law Reform Commission.
The AGF noted that section 5 of the Nigeria Law Reform Commission Act saddled it with the responsibility of law revision exercise which the new bill primarily sought to achieve.
“This, to us in the Justice Ministry, is not necessary, to avoid creating an agency for functions already being carried out by an existing one legally,” he said.
Speaking further, AGF hinged his rejection of the Bill on National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation (Establishment) 2017 on the fact that the National Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution wasin place to carry out functions relating to peace and conflict resolutions within Nigeria and Africa.
He said: “Our take on these two bills is that they should be jettisoned since their intendments have already been taken care of by existing agencies legally put in place.
‘’If they are seen not to be carrying out their functions efficiently and effectively, we are not against the National Assembly by way of legislation, strengthening their capacities to function better.”
He, however, supported the two other bills, which are the one seeking for Emergency Powers Act, sponsored by Senator John Owan Enoh (PDP Cross River Central) and Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2017), sponsored by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, APC Oyo Central.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, tasked stakeholders at the public hearing to help the Senate Committee in coming up with robust legislative work on all the bills through quality contributions.
He said: “Today’s (yesterday) public hearing is significant for certain reasons, one of which is that it heralds the beginning of the third session of the 8th Senate and second, there are four completely different bills from four different sponsors, with their benefits and peculiarities to Nigerians of various social strata.
‘’The Bills are National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation(Establishment etc) Bill, 2017 (SB 74) by Sen. Shehu Sani; Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017 (SB. 391) by Sen. David Umaru; Emergency Powers Act, 1966 Bill, (SB 182) by Sen. Sen. John Owan Enoh;
and Arbitration and Conciliation Act Cap. A18 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017) (SB. 427) by Sen Monsurat Olajumoke Sunmonu.
“The Emergency powers Act No. 1 of 1961 which came into operation on the 30th of March 1961, has been utilized for the purpose of maintaining and securing order and good government during the period of emergency in the country.
‘’The Act actually predates the 1963 Republican Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and it is not contained in the 1990 compilation of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and the current compilation of the 2004 laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
“It must be clearly stated today that this Bill has nothing to do with removal of state governors and appointment of sole administrators during a state of emergency. Under the present constitutional arrangement as contained in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an elected state governor can only be removed or cease to hold office by impeachment, resignation, permanent incapacitation, death and by expiration of tenure.
‘’Any attempt to remove an elected state governor under the guise of “declaration of state of emergency” will be undemocratic and unconstitutional.’’