Saraki: Emergency Powers Bill Not Intended to Remove Governors

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• Senate pledges commitment to eliminate child labour
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has clarified that the Emergency Powers Bill being considered by the Senate is not intended to remove state governors during state of emergencies in any state of the federation.
The bill, which seeks to repeal the Emergency Powers Act of 1961, also has nothing to do with the appointment of sole administrators.

Saraki, speaking  on Monday when he declared open a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to deliberate on four bills, emphasised on the constitutionally endorsed modalities to remove an elected state governor.

“Under the present constitutional arrangement as contained in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution, an elected state governor can only be removed or cease to hold office by impeachment, resignation, permanent incapacitation, death and by expiration of his tenure. Any attempt to remove an elected state governor under the guise of “declaration of state of emergency” will be undemocratic and unconstitutional,” he said.
He added that a state of emergency could result from insurgency, arson, civil unrest and unmanageable natural disasters in any part of Nigeria.

Other bills considered at the hearing are the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation (Establishment etc) Bill, 2017 Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017 and Arbitration and Conciliation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017).
The Senate president, in his address, however expressed reservation on the powers of the proposed National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Establishment Bill, which seeks to establish an administrative mechanism for creating bonds, unity and reconciliation.

“The onus lies on us all to admit whether or not the establishment of a commission of this sort with accordant powers to grant amnesties for serious violations of human rights rather than adopting punitive measures is the best way to ensure a peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups and individuals living in Nigeria,” he said.

Saraki lauded the bill as one that would assist to douse pockets of tension and violence in different parts of the country as well as stem the tide of disenchantment and secession against the Nigerian state.
Speaking on the Arbitration and Conciliation bill, the Senate president noted that arbitration has become a modern way of dispute resolution, adding that Nigeria must tweak its laws in order not to be left behind by the international community.

“With increased potential for disputes arising from increased foreign and local investments in Nigeria, it is very important we make our litigation process less cumbersome and guarantee the swiftness of getting dispute resolution through arbitration and conciliation,” Saraki said.

In another development, the Senate president has pledged the commitment of the Senate to partner the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to end all forms of child labour in Nigeria.
Saraki, speaking when he received the Country Director of the ILO, Mr. Dennis Zulu, on a visit, said lack of advocacy has limited understanding of child labour issues.
According to a statement by his Special Assistant on Print Media, Mr. Chuks Okocha, Saraki called on all stakeholders to put in more efforts against the scourge.

“As you are aware, some States are yet to domesticate it (Child Rights Act 2003), and we made some commitment to them, hoping that the States that are left, will work hard to see that before the next Children’s Day, they will see that this Act is domesticated in their states. It is important to promote universal basic education, to support the National Child Labor Policy and the National Action Plan the ILO developed with the federal government.”
“This 8th Senate is very committed to issues of child’s rights, violence against children and child labour. I hope that we will be able to work closely together in these areas and I will like you to leave here with the assurances that we are your partners,” Saraki added.