By Oghenevwende Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has strongly condemned the amendment to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) Act by the National Assembly and urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the amended Act.
The CNPP also called on well meaning Nigerians and the civil society groups in the country, including the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to mount pressure on Mr. President to withhold his assent to the said amendment.
The umbrella body of all the registered political parties and associations in the country, in a statement issued yesterday and signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, noted that the CNPP’s decision was taken after a careful study of the amendment and the circumstances surrounding the controversial move.
Parts of the statement read: “We are taken aback that just months after it initially suspended the move to amend the CCB and the CCT Act, the National Assembly subtly passed the amendment Bill into law.
“When the plan by the National Assembly to amend the Act first became known to members of the public, there was deafening outcry, which forced the lawmakers to suspend the move.
“The CNPP, just like many other Nigerians had thought that the National Assembly by the suspension of the earlier move to amend the CCT/CCB Act was a sign of good days ahead where the lawmakers respect the majority opinion of their respective constituencies.
“But the subtle passage of the amendment Bill is an indication that the National Assembly is serving the interest of its principal officers and not that of the Nigerian people who unfortunately elected this crop of lawmakers, so insensitive to the core issues bothering the ordinary citizens”, the CNPP observed.
The conference also noted that “the speed with which the amendment was carried out at a time some principal officers were accused of false declaration of assets is an indication of the interest it intended to serve.
The CNPP added: “We therefore urge President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold his assent by not signing the amended Act into law as the circumstances surrounding the amendment shows it was done in bad fate and the action of the National Assembly amounts taking over executive powers to the detriment of the constitutional principle of separation of powers.
“It must be noted that appointment of the staff of the CCT and CCB are clear executive powers, which the National Assembly cannot be allowed usurp.
“We equally call on the civil society groups and all well meaning Nigerians to mount pressure on Mr. President not to sign the amendment as doing so would mean that the National Assembly would become a place of refuge for former governors and political officeholders who make false assets declarations. It then means that all they need to evade prosecution would be to be elected as senators or as members of the House of Representatives.”
CNPP also condemned the amendment in the strongest terms describing it as a rape of the principle of justice and an ambush on the ongoing trail of some principal officers of the National Assembly over alleged false asset declaration fraud.
It added that the same National Assembly that had delayed the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which could create jobs for many unemployed Nigerians was quick to amend the CCT/CCB Act, arrogating to itself the power to control both the CCB and CCT, because it serves their interest.