- Other bills seeking to reform prisons scale second reading
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Respite came the way of distributing companies (Discos) and generating companies (Gencos) wednesday as a bill seeking to reduce remittance of 30 per cent of total revenue generated by them to 10 per cent passed second reading.
Tagged: ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Hydroelectric Power Producing Area Development Commission 2016,’ the bill seeks to amend Section 14(2) of the principal Act which provides that “ 30 per cent of the total revenue generated by any company or authority from the operation of any hydroelectric dams in any member state of the commission shall be remitted to HYPPADEC as one of the main sources of funds to execute its mandate under the Principal Act.”
Sponsor of the bill, Senator David Umaru (Niger East), said the need to amend the provision had become compelling in view of the contention that 30 per cent charge imposed on stakeholders by the Act had generated.
Umaru added that the contention had made the Principal Act unimplementable and hence the need to provide a legal framework authorising the deduction of 10 per cent “from the invoices of companies (Gencos, Discos etc) and retained by various government agencies including the Marketing Operator (M0), the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) between 2013 and 2015.”
Umaru further said the need to review the charge downward had become compelling become the stipulated 30 per cent had become practically impossible to achieve.
He said the charge “became the bone of contention between investors, market participants and the regulator of the electricity industry, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) leading to a demand for a downward review of the charge imposed by the Principal Act.
“The demand for the review of the surcharge imposed on the annual revenue of the above mentioned entities from 30 per cent as contained in the Principal Act to 10 per cent, was based on the fact that it became impracticable for such a large percentage of the total revenue of hydro-based electricity generating companies to be remitted to HYPPADEC without having adverse effects on the performance of these entities considering the capital intensive nature of the industry and the myriad of problems inherited by these investors following the unbundling of NEPA.”
He lamented how host communities suffer a number of tragic experiences ranging from flood, water borne diseases, environmental pollution, loss of lives and properties.
Umaru added that communities around Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba hydroelectric dams had continued to suffer economic losses as a result of hydroelectricity generation activities.
In their contributions, Senators George Akume (Benue North-west) and Barnabbas Gemade (Benue North-east) canvassed the need to include Benue and Taraba among HYPPADEC states. According to them, the two states had suffered huge losses from spill over effects from electricity generation.
Also wednesday, three bills sponsored Senators Babajide Omoworare (Osun East), Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara North) seeking to repeal and re-enact the Prisons Act scaled second reading.
While Omoworare’s bill seeks to instil some corrective measures in the prison service through the creation of Prisons and Correctional Service Commission, Tinubu’s bill seeks to make provisions for mother and care unit where pregnant and nursing mother in prisons will be taken care of.
On the other hand, Lafiagi’s bill seeks a holistic reform in the prisons that will address cases of decongestion by tackling prevalent cases of prisoners awaiting trials for many years.
The commission which Omoworare’s bill seeks to create will devote special attention to medical, educational, technical, vocational and legal needs of prisoners, among others.
The bill states that “an exclusive Prisons and Correctional Service Commission is necessary because the functions of the prisons, being peculiar involve keeping a large number of people in continuous custody requiring specialised treatment, attention and focus. It is also necessary because of the entrance of the term ‘corrections.’”
Tinubu on her part, lamented cases of infants living with their mothers in the prisons, saying “it is disheartening to sight infants living with their mothers in the prisons where movement is restricted, freedom restrained and liberty impeded.”
She added: “It is a common knowledge that this phenomenon has the potential of impeding all round growth of the infant and may cause retardation. This forms the basis for this amendment.”
Lafiagi in his lead debate bemoaned how the prisons are filled with several accused persons awaiting trial for several years and therefore advocated the need to enact such a law that will facilitate reforms meant to decongest the prisons.