The spokesperson for the Senate Unity Forum, Senator Kabir Marafa, on Saturday evening, urged Nigerians to discountenance the ongoing plans by Red Chamber of the National Assembly to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau/Conduct of Conduct Tribunal Act as it would be a wasted exercise.
He also said the amendment was to introduce immunity clause for the President of the Senate.
Marafa, an All Progressive Congress Senator representing Zamfara Central, who stated this in an interview with our correspondent on Saturday in Abuja, also described the proposed amendments as “dead on arrival.”
He said, “What my colleagues are trying to do is laughable because it’s an effort in futility. It is a constitutional issue.
“Are they trying to amend the Constitution of Nigeria with an act of the National Assembly?
“The sections they are trying to amend are clearly stated in the constitution and could only be reviewed through a legally acceptable constitution amendment process.”
Marafa described his colleagues who had been sponsoring some bills in the Senate in recent times as “new comers who lack basic parliamentary knowledge and experience.”
He said, “They had listed for amendments, Public Officers Protection Act; Administration of Criminal Justice Act; Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act.
“Their intention is to alter all these constitutional provisions just because of an individual. How can you anchor bills amendments around an individual?
“I don’t know how they want to alter the constitution to extend immunity clause to the senate president when it is only the president, vice-president and the governors that are covered in the constitution.”
Marafa said he refused to contribute to the debate on the CCB/CCB amendments on Thursday on the floor because doing so would amount to a waste of precious time.
He said, “I refused to talk because I know they are embarking on an exercise in futility. It’s a mere jamboree and sheer waste of tax-payers money.
“Nigerians would definitely wait for them at the public hearing and they would be told that trying to make laws around an individual is a waste of the nation’s resources.”
Marafa appealed to his colleagues to stop making themselves a laughing stock in the public by trying to carry out legislative activities with the sole aim of frustrating the trial of the Senate President Bukola Saraki, at the CCT.
He added, “Instead of learning the ropes, even senior lawyers among the new senators are jumping the gun by initiating bills to save their boss from criminal prosecution.
“All of them should be dragged before the Senate Committee on Ethics for smearing the image of a reputable institution like the Senate.”
Section 3 (c) and (d) of the CCB Act has been proposed for amendment to alter the functions of the bureau.
Also, Paragraph 17 of the Third Schedule to the Principal Act is to be amended to prevent the CCT from trying any accused public officer.
As contained in the current act, “The functions of the Bureau shall be to – (a) receive assets declarations by officers in accordance with the provisions of this Act; and (b) take and retain custody of such assets declarations.
“It shall examine the assets 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.
“It shall 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.
“It shall 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.”
The new provision in the proposed bill reads, “Subsection 3(a) has been retained while subsection 3(c) now becomes subsection 3(b) and subsections 3(c) and (3d) have been altered to give fair hearing equity and justice to every public officer that is invited to appear before the bureau in line with the constitutional provision as enumerated above.
Paragraph 17 of the Third Schedule to the Principal Act is to be amended by completely deleting same.
It will now read, “An Act to provide for the establishment of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal to deal with complaints of corruption by public servants for breach of its provisions.
“The act does not contemplate criminal trial so the sponsor of the bill argued that the usage of Criminal Procedure Act and the Criminal Procedure Code should not be used as a procedural template in the Tribunal.”