Senate Bills Set To Whittle Down CCB Powers And Bars CCT From Criminal Proceedings

•Senate bills whittle down CCB powers, bars CCT from criminal proceedings

A bill seeking to whittle down the powers of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) scaled its second reading on the floor of the Senate yesterday.

In the same vein, another bill seeking to delete CCT from the list of judicial institutions with the jurisdiction to adjudicate on criminal matters has been initiated in the Senate.
The first bill tagged, “Code of Conduct Act Cap C15 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2016”, was sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaboshi (Delta North).

Yesterday’s plenary was presided over by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, stayed away.
In his lead debate, Nwaboshi said the bill was conceived to ensure that anyone who appeared before CCT is given a fair hearing.

“The amendment of Section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act is to give every public officer appearing before the bureau fair hearing as provided for under Section 36(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999,” he said.

The amendments proposed in the bill are as follows: “The functions of the Bureau shall be to: (a) receive assets declarations by officers in accordance with the provisions of this Act; (b) take and retain custody of such assets declarations; (c) examine the asset declarations and ensure that they comply with the requirements of this Act and of any law for the time being in force if otherwise the bureau shall invite the public officer concerned and take down his statement in writing; (d) receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of this Act and where the Bureau having regard to any statement taken or to be taken after such subsequent complaint is made considers it necessary to do so, investigate the complaint and where appropriate refer such complaints to the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by Section 20 of this Act and the constitution in accordance with the provisions of Sections 20 to 25 of this Act.”

While all senators, who contributed to the debate hailed the amendment bill, describing it as timely, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North) cautioned his colleagues against the amendment, describing the bill as ill-timed.

He said even though the amendment might be good, coming at the time Saraki is standing trial before CCT could generate a negative public backlash.
Specifically, he said the public could interpret the amendment as a desperate move to frustrate the ongoing trial of Saraki.

“I rise to raise a point of caution. I am against the timing of the amendment. We must look at the perception of the people. Nigerian people can interpret it to mean that we have something to hide.
“Nigerians will question why we are doing this now if not that our president is facing trial. That is what Nigerians will think. We need to be careful,” he warned.
But Ekweremadu quickly addressed Abdullahi’s concern, insisting that the bill had nothing to do with Saraki’s trial.

According to him, the bill was not proposed to be retroactive, noting that Saraki’s trial had already begun and hence, its passage could no longer influence the ongoing trial.
Ekweremadu further claimed that the move only showed that the Senate was not afraid to carry out its legislative functions.

When the bill was put to a voice vote, senators unanimously voted in favour of its passage and was subsequently referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Judiciary.

Also yesterday, Senator Isah Misau (Bauchi Central) sponsored another bill tagged, “”A Bill for an Act to Amend the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and for Other Related Matters”.
The bill seeks to remove CCT from the list of courts saddled with powers to initiate criminal proceedings against accused persons.

Highlighting include: “The provisions of this Act shall not apply to a court martial and such other courts or tribunals not being courts created and listed under Section 6(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.”

Source: This Day

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