Acting President Osibanjo withholds assent to four Bills

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria’s acting President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo has withheld his assent to four Bills passed by the National Assembly, and recently transmitted to the President.

The Bills are, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill, 2016, Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and National Lottery (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

In four separate letters addressed to the Senate President, and dated February 7th, 2017 but received on February 20, 2017, the Acting President noted that the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter” was the rationale for withholding assent to the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Also, the acting President cited the concerns surrounding board composition, funding arrangements, limitation of liability of funds, and proposals to increase levels of uncollaterised loans from =N=5,000.00 to =N=250,000.00,” as reasons for withholding assent to the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Other details provided in the letters show that the “concern regarding modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture orders,” was the rationale for withholding assent to the Currency Conversion (freezing orders) (Amendment) Bill, 2016, while assent was withheld to Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2016, because of “the concerns regarding certain words and phrases utilised in the draft Bill that may be inconsistent with the Principal Act.”

In particular to the Dangerous Drugs Act, the acting President was also dissatisfied with the proposed amendments, and therefore, refused to sign it into law. It would be recalled that Professor Osibanjo had last week, assented to seven Bills passed by the National Assembly.

The seven Bills were among the eleven Bills that were sent to the President before assents were withheld to four of them.

Meanwhile, the Senate has said that it will consult with the acting President to see that the issues raised with three of the Bills are corrected for further necessary actions.

Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi who informed National Assembly Correspondents about the decision, also confirmed that the legal department of the parliament had been notified to act accordingly, with respect to the fourth Bill which did not get Presidential assent because of a pending court case.

Nnenna.O