Senate withdraws frivolous petitions Bill

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate has withdrawn the controversial Bill on frivolous petitions which were under consideration by the upper legislative chamber.

The decision to withdraw the Bill followed a report by the Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, after it conducted a public hearing which allowed Nigerians to make their inputs in the legislation process.

According to a summary of the committee’s findings, Nigerians who participated in the public hearing were in agreement that the Bill should not be passed otherwise, it would be infringing on the Rights of the people to express their opinions on sensitive national issues.

Supporting withdrawal
Some of the Senators, who commented on the Senator David Umaru led committee’s report, spoke in favour of the withdrawal as recommended by the committee.

“I support 100 percent the withdrawal of this Bill and it ought to have been withdrawn even before now as against the whistle blowers’ Bill that is before the Senate,” Senator Dino Melaye said.

In the opinion of Senator Shehu Sahi, the action of the Senate was a demonstration of its respect for one of the cardinal tenets of Democracy.

“People in the position of power must learn to tolerate and accept when people question their authority. This Bill attempts to stifle the rights of Nigerians to criticise their Leaders and the freedom of speech,” he said.

Senator Godswill Akpabio, who also supported the withdrawal of the Bill, called for new measures to curb incessant frivolous petitions that are intended to damage the image of individuals of organisations.

“As it is today, the public opinion must have its way so I support the withdrawal but I still believe that we must find a way to curb incessant frivolous petitions. We are not talking about petitions but frivolous ones,” he submitted.

Engagement over fuel price hike
In another development, the Senate also on Tuesday resolved to engage with the federal government to find sustainable ways of improving the welfare of the citizens, as part of efforts to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by increase in the pump price of petrol.

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, said the decision was part of resolutions reached at an Executive session over the fuel price hike, as the lawmakers reconvened after a short recess.

The Senate also called on the government to continue engaging with the organised labour and other stakeholders to resolve the issues in order not to ground the system and impose more hardship on Nigerians.

It urged the Presidency to begin immediate implementation of the palliative measures contained in the 2016 appropriation act passed by the National Assembly.

Six Bills were read for the first time on the floor of the Senate before plenary was adjourned till Wednesday May 18, 2016.