Senate seeks public input on four legislations

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

Nigeria's Senate

The Nigerian Senate on Monday held a public hearing on the provisions of four proposed legislations.

The proposed legislations are the National Commission for Peace, Reconciliation (Establishment etc) Bill, 2017, Revised Laws of the Federation Bill, 2017, Emergency Powers Act, 1966 Bill, and Arbitration and Conciliation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2017).

The National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Establishment Bill seeks to establish an administrative mechanism for creating bonds, unity and reconciliation, and the Senate believes it will help to douse pockets of tension and violence in different parts of the country as well as stemming the tide of disenchantment and secession against the Nigerian State.

Also, the Revised Laws of the Federation Bill 2017 seeks to address major short falls associated with the review and codification of the Laws of the Federation. The primary purpose of this Bill is to provide a legal framework for the periodic review, codification and publication of Acts of the National Assembly and other subsidiary legislations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to prevent the duplication of laws and ensure ease of reference by members of the general public.

However, stakeholders who participated in the public hearing, including the Attorney General of the Federation, kicked against the establishment of the two commissions, because according to them, it would amount to duplication of functions by existing government Agencies.

For instance, the Law Reform Commission (LRC) is already handling the responsibilities proposed in the Revised Laws of the Federation Bill 2017, while the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) was established to manage issues of peace and reconciliation in the country, as contained in the proposed National Commission for Peace and Reconciliation Establishment Bill.

In his address to declare the event open, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki emphasized that the Public Hearing was significant because, it heralds the beginning of the third session of the 8th Senate.

Senator Saraki also urged the stakeholders to help the Senate committee to come up with robust legislative work that will lead to quality Bills and eventual Laws for the country.

“As a matter of fact, the absence of a timeframe for the conduct of the codification of our laws and the prevailing practice whereby the National Assembly is required at all times to pass a law to approve every compilation is uncoordinated and makes it very difficult for lawyers and constitutional researchers to keep tabs with the existing laws in operation. 

I sincerely hope that this platform provides us the opportunity to ensure we put a template that will guide the revision of the Laws of the Federation periodically.”

The Emergency Powers Bill 2017 seeks to repeal the 1961 Act and provide for a legal framework for the declaration of a state of emergency in Nigeria, which could result from insurgency, arson, civil unrest and unmanageable natural disasters. The Bill however stated clearly that, it has nothing to do with removal of State Governors and appointment of Sole Administrators during a State of Emergency.

Participants also deliberated on a Bill seeking an amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 2004, which is now seen as the modern way of dispute resolution by the international community. This Bill seeks to achieve this by making “interim awards” made by Arbitral panels immediately binding on parties as opposed to having to go through the court process for enforcement in the middle of arbitration thereby delaying the process of adjudication.

Monday’s public hearing was organised by the Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which is chaired by Senator David Umaru.