President Muhamadu Buhari

Despite the outrage from Nigerians, the Senate on Thursday, October 27, finally suspended and transferred the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari, in controlling the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and Code of Conduct Tribunal CCT, Act, to itself.

At the conclusion of work on the CCB and CCT Amendment Bill on Thursday, the National Assembly altered section 18 (2), to enable the National Assembly do the conferment of additional powers on the CCB, instead of the President, as provided for in the extant Act.

The Bill has stopped the President from enjoying the powers of exempting public officers from investigation and trial. Instead, it gave that power to the National Assembly.

Section 18 (1) of the existing Act reads: “The President may, by order, exempt any cadre of public officers from the provisions of this Act, if it appears to him that their position in the public service, is below the rank which he considers appropriate for the application of those provisions.”
Also, Section 18 (2) of the existing Act provided that: “The President may, by order, confer on the Bureau such additional powers, as may appear to him to be necessary, to enable it to discharge more effectively, the functions conferred upon it under this act.”

However, the National Assembly snatched this power from the President, while considering the report of its Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on a Bill for an Act, to Amend the CCB and CCT Act Cap. C15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and other Related Matters.

Recall, that the Bill, initiated and first passed by the House of Representatives, was transmitted to the Senate for concurrence in May.

With the concurrence of the Senate with the House, the Bill will be pushed to the President, for assent.
If the amendment is signed into law by the President, the CCB and CCT, which are currently under the direct supervision of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SSG, will now be reporting to the National Assembly.

The Senate further reduced the tenure of Chairman and Members from serving until they are 70 years old, to a term of five years. The first term of five years in office, is however, subject to renewal, for one more term only, making a total of 10 years in all. The new provision reads: “The Chairman and Members shall serve for a term of five years, subject to renewal for one further term.”

Another important amendment effected to the CCT/CCB Act, is to make it compulsory for any case of breach, or non-compliance to be brought to the notice of the person concerned, to enable him to make a written admission of such breach or non-compliance, and where such is done, there shall be no reference to the Tribunal.

However, after presenting the report of the committee by its Chairman, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, some Members of the rival Senate Unity Forum, SUF, rose to oppose the passage of the bill, arguing that it would create negative impression in the minds of the public, because of the current trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.
Senators Ahmad Lawan, Barnabas Gemade, Kabiru Marafa, and Abdullahi Adamu, all of the SUF, strongly opposed its passage, and suggested that it should be withdrawn.

However, when it was put to voice vote by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, majority of the Senators, approved that the Chamber should go ahead with the clause-by-clause consideration, resulting in its eventual passage.
It will be recalled, that the Senate introduced a similar bill in April this year, and referred it to the Committee on Ethics, but it was suspended, because of the public outcry, as a result of Saraki’s trial at the CCT.
It is however, not certain if Buhari will assent to the Bill, when it is finally transmitted to him, because of the controversy trailing the legislation.



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