In a bid to fast track the signing of the Bill to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Senate, Thursday, endorsed the Bill for the second reading.
The Bil, which seeks amendment of the Act of Code of Conduct Bureau and to remove the Code of Conduct Tribunal from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the Presidency, according the Senate, is to ensure fair hearing for accused persons, as well as remove the powers of the Code of Conduct Tribunal from adjudicating on criminal matters.
The Bill, coming at a time the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is facing a 13 count charge before the Tribunal is seen by many as an attempt to crike the activities of the Tribunal.
But the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Thursday session dispelled such setiments.
He explained that the amendment was not intended to influence the trial of Saraki for allegedly making false asset declaration.
Ekweremadu said, “Let me just say that this bill absolutely has nothing to do with the proceedings going on at the code of conduct tribunal in which the Senate President is involved because his trial has commenced as you are aware, and if you look at the last paragraph of the bill which says ‘this bill maybe sighted as a code of conduct bureau tribunal Act amendment bill, 2016.
“That means that the bill is not being made retrospective as to affect the proceedings at the code of conduct tribunal, certainly it has nothing to do with it.
We are only doing our work as a parliamentarians and it is our responsibility to ensure that there is justice for all at all time and we must not be afraid or scared to the job which the constitution has given us.
“I believe that it is in the course of our duty that this amendment is being proposed because the code of conduct tribunal has come to stay and with all intent and purpose, we support the Tribunal, we support the Bureau but we would also make sure that in doing their work there is also fairness, equity and all the principles enunciated in the chapter four of our constitution dealing with human rights and also respected.
“So that is why we are here and we are not intended, we are not planning or trying to frustrating particular trial because of what this bill is just coming now and the trial the code of conduct tribunal as since commenced. It actually as nothing to do with but we must at all times be courageous to do our work”, he said.
Debate of the proposed amendment was done in a jiffy with only one Senator, Yahaya Abbdullahi, (Kebbi North) managing to put in words of advice some words on the timing of the bill.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Abbdullahi urged his collragues to be cautious about the timing of the amendment.
He said that although the amendment was apt, the perception of Nigerians, especially with regard to the timing should be taken into consideration.
“What I am against is the timing; we must be wary about public perception about the position of the senate.
“The Nigerian people could perceive this to mean that we did not challenge this Act until now that our principal officer is standing trial.
“I have nothing against this amendment because it brings fairness; if I am being treated the way our principal officer is being treated it would not be good.
“But for the credibility of this Senate I think we should re-examine the timing of this.
The question of the timing of this bill should be taken into consideration. Nigerian people can easily interpret that since 1991, this Act was not challenged but because our principal officer is being tried, we decided to come up with this amendment”, he said.
However, many of the Senators contributed, the amendment bill was unanimously endorsed for the second reading.