•Says Electoral Offences Bill’ll be ready for 2023 general elections

By Henry Umoru

THE Senate yesterday passed a bill that amends the Court of Appeal Act, 2013, to  increase the number of Justices from 90 to 110.

The bill ,which was read the third time and passed by the Senate, was sequel to the adoption of the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and legal Matters by the Chairman, Senator Bamidele Opeyemi, APC, Ekiti Central.

In his presentation, Opeyemi said the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, sought to increase the number of Justices of Court of Appeal from 90 to 110 .

Opeyemi, who noted that the legislative intent of the amendment was to ensure that the court had the requisite manpower to allow cooperation of all the divisions of the court, said the bill was designed to bring justice closer to litigants, in line with the current reality at expediting the administration of justice.

He said:  “This is necessary in order to eliminate delay in the justice delivery systems, as it relates to the adjudicatory powers of the court

“This proposed amendments undoubtedly is targeted at increasing the work load of the court and enhance its effective performance.”

Opeyemi explained that stakeholders were unanimous in their support of the passage of the bill, given its strategic relevance to the justice sector reform, adding that the amendment would ultimately stimulate quick dispensation of justice.

“The one silent improvement of this bill is the aspect that seeks to integrate virtual court proceedings which have become an integral part of our court proceedings.

” This also is in line with the guildline, given to courts by the Chief Justice of the Federation, as justice will no longer be delayed,” he said.

Also yesterday, the Senate passed the National Health Act amendment Bill 2014 and the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Science Egbe, Kogi establishment bill.

This followed the adoption of the reports of Senate Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary). Meanwhile, the Senate has assured that the Electoral Offences bill would be ready before the 2023 polls.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja during the screening of Residents Electoral Commissioners, REC, of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, APC, Kano South, said the committee was working round the clock to ensure the electoral body conducted credible election in the 2023.

According to him,  the committee has already forwarded the Electoral Offences Bill to the Technical Committee in the House of Representatives.“Gaya said:  ” The National Assembly is unswerving in making sure the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, succeeds in its assignment.

“It will interest you to know that the National Electoral Offences Bill is currently being worked on by a technical Committee in the House of Representatives, the legislative intent is to ensure that INEC concentrates on the administration of elections, while electoral offenders are brought to book to deter others and build a positive  electoral culture for our nation.”

“Speaking on the preparation for 2023 general election, Gaya,  who noted that the preparation for the 2023 elections was in top gear, said it was an opportunity to prepare Nigerians for social , political and economic elevation.

“The committee screened the 19 nominees presented for confirmation by President Muhammadu Buhari, of which five of the nominees  were for reappointment, while fourteen were for new appointment.

“But, petitions were submitted against the nomination of Muhammad Lawal Bashir from Sokoto; Pauline Onyeka Ugochi from Imo and Dr Oliver Tersoo for allegedly being card carrying members of registered political parties in the country.

“Recall that in July ,  President Muhammadu Buhari transmitted the names of 19 nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the Senate for confirmation.

“The renewal nominees for confirmation are Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa); Obo Effanga (Cross River); Umar Ibrahim (Taraba); Agboke Olaleke (Ogun); and Samuel Egwu (Kogi).

“For the fresh appointment, the nominees are Onyeka Ugochi (Imo); Muhammad Bashir (Sokoto); Ayobami Salami, a professor, (Oyo); Zango Abdu (Katsina); Queen Agwu (Ebonyi); and Agundu Tersoo (Benue); Yomere Oritsemlebi (Delta); Yahaya Ibrahim, a professor, (Kaduna); Nura Ali (Kano); Agu Uchenna (Enugu); Ahmed Garki (FCT); Hudu Yunusa (Bauchi); Uzochukwu Chijioke, a professor, (Anambra); and Mohammed Nura (Yobe).“

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