Chuks Okocha and Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The Senate, at its plenary wednesday, commenced the passage of a bill to ban the use of electricity generating sets in Nigeria as the bill in that regard, sponsored by Senator Binta Enagi, from Niger South Senatorial District, passed first reading.
The bill which specifically seeks to prohibit anyone from importing or knowingly selling generating sets, however, prescribed a prison term of not less than ten years, if found guilty upon conviction, as punishment.
The bill, however, provides for an exception as it stated that the ban will not affect those that are into essential services, like hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare facilities, airports, railway stations/services, elevators, escalators, research institutions, and other such facilities that require 24 hours electric power supply.
According to the bill, approval for exclusion shall be obtained from the minister in charge of power, who shall brief the Federal Executive Council (FEC) quarterly on approvals granted.
It equally stipulated that the ban shall affect all persons using electricity generating sets which run on diesel/petrol/kerosene of all capacities with immediate effect in the country.
However, the Senate referred the bill seeking to preclude courts at all levels in the country from interfering in affairs of political parties on all issues on pre-election matters to its Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review.
The bills which are three in number and sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, include bills for Acts, to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to preclude the Federal High Court, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, and state High Courts, respectively, from entertaining pre-election disputes emanating from congress, conferences, conventions or other meetings convened by political parties for the purpose of electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies and for related matters 2020.
The Omo-Agege’s bills which proposed establishment of special courts or tribunals to handle all pre-election matters within the political parties were subsequently forwarded to the Constitution Review Committee of the Senate for further legislative processes.
Also, a bill sponsored by Senator Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa West), which seeks for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Right to Food and Food Security in Nigeria and for related matters, 2020, passed Second Reading.
Similarly, a bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the regulation of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal and for related matters, 2020, sponsored by Senator Basiru Ajibola (Osun Central), also scaled the Second Reading.
The Senate also passed for second reading a bill sponsored by Senator Bamidele Opeyemi (Ekiti Central) which seeks for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide immunity for members of the legislature in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or committee proceedings and institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution; and for related matters, 2020.
Others bills which scaled through the reading were: a bill for an Act to establish the North West Development Commission; a bill for an Act to Repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to enact the Civil Aviation Act for the regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria and for related matters, 2020; and the Finance Act 2019 amendment bill.
Leading his debate on the Finance Act amendment bill, the Senate leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, explained that the bill sought to, among other things, amend certain tax provision of the Finance Act 2019 and other relevant tax statues to make them more responsive to the tax reform policies of the federal government and to enhance their implementation and effectiveness.
In his remark, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, lauded the executive arm of government for its cooperation with the National Assembly on issues of legislation.
According to him, “we passed this bill sometime in November last year, and the President signed it. Just like our distinguished senator said that he is worried that they have not even operated and they are seeking for amendment.
“I think we have something to celebrate here, that instead of either not signing or assenting to the bill that we worked on, or implementing it without recourse to exactly what the law will be dictating, I think that would have been our cause for worry.”