Plenary proceedings at the House of Representatives on Thursday, February 8, 2017

Plenary proceedings at the House of Representatives on Thursday, February 8, 2017

Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara presided.

He said opening prayers and approved votes and proceedings for Wednesday, February 7, 2018.

Hon. Yakubu Umar Barde moved a motion of urgent public importance on the need to ensure sanity in the administration of the justice system in the fight against corruption in Nigeria by the Attorney General of the Federation

Hon. Barde, while moving the motion, said that while the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, EFCC and CCT are indispensable in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, the recent turn of events (with the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar being charged on two counts of corruption) calls for concern. He expresses deep concern that the AGF and EFCC, who have brought these charges against the CCT chairman, are also currently prosecuting cases before him.

Hon. Barde added that although the EFCC had previously issued a statement absolving Justice Danladi Umar of any wrongdoing, charging him now and asking him to try SP Bukola Saraki gives the impression that a game is being arranged to meet a predetermined result. He said that by so doing, the justice system is being portrayed as susceptible to manipulation and this should greatly worry every well meaning Nigerian. He further went on to add that given the circumstances, any possible convictions or findings which the CCT may make may therefore be rendered null and void by the Court of Appeal, thereby frustrating the course of justice. He also described as disturbing, the fact that the AGF seems to be instrumental in this “unwholesome saga”.

The motion was adopted and the House resolved to condemn the manipulation of the legal system by the AGF and the Ag. Chairman of the EFFC, and mandate the House Committee on Judiciary to interact with the AGF to ensure that sanity is brought back to the case at hand.

Hon. Sunday Marshal Katung also moved a motion of urgent public importance, seeking the inclusion of Kaduna and Plateau states in the states affected by the farmer/herdsmen clashes, and listed for visitation by the panel constituted by the NEC. He called on Members to support the motion, saying that: “this is yet another opportunity to show Nigerians that we truly care about them.” He gave a brief narrative of clashes from 1980 to date, with attendant loss of lives and destruction of property.

While contributing to the debate, Hon. Jagaba Adams Jagaba stated that the farmer/herdsman crisis began in Southern Kaduna. He said that one of the biggest farmers in the area was killed only last week after being trailed for a while.

“In this country, we have to do things in such a way that everyone has a sense of belonging. The number of people killed in Southern Kaduna is three times those killed in Benue, but in our own case, we don’t have a voice. Come 2019, we have decided that the voter’s card is our AK47. We are going to vote out people that are insensitive to our security”, he said.

Hon. Mohammed Sani Abdu also supported the motion and corroborated Hon. Jagaba’s narration of the crisis beginning in Southern Kaduna.

The motion was put to a vote by Speaker Dogara and the ayes had it.

The House then went into the first business of the day.

7 new bills were introduced into the legislative mill;

Trade Disputes Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1319)(Hon. Nkeiruka C. Onyejeocha)

Council for the Registration of Travel Agents of Nigeria Bill, 2018 (HB. 1320) (Hon. Nkeiruka C. Onyejeocha)

Central Bank of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1321)(Hon. O. K. Chinda)

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1322) (Hon. O. K. Chinda)

Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1323) (Hon. O. K. Chinda)

Federal College of Agriculture, Okehi, Etche (Establishment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1325)

Federal Polytechnic, Yala (Establishment) Bill, 2018 (HB. 1326) (Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe)

The following reports were presented;

Report of the Committee on Aviation on the Fact Finding Visits to Enugu, Port-Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja Airports (Pursuant to Order Eighteen, Rule 17 (2) (a) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives). (Laid by Hon. Nkiru Onyejeocha)

Report of the Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values on a Bill for an Act to Amend the National Broadcasting Commission Act, Cap. N11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Provide for Competition in Nigeria, to Promote Efficiency and Expand Opportunities for Nigerian Participation in World Markets while at the same time Recognizing the Role of Foreign Competition in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (Referred: 14/1/2016). (Laid by Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun Dokun)

Bills

The House passed through third reading, A Bill for an Act to Amend the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (Establishment, etc.) Act, 2010 to make Provision for the Reduction of Percentage on Revenue Generated by any Company or Authority from the Operations of Hydroelectric Dams; and for Related Matters (HB. 1213)(motion moved by House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila)

House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila led debate on A Bill for an Act to Provide that 20% of Jobs Available in all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and Companies be Distributed among the Physically Challenged Persons in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB. 1261). He said that the bill seeks to do what should have been done a long time ago for fellow Nigerians, as it would ensure that People with disabilities are able to live optimally. He said that if passed, it would be a landmark legislation in line with the Constitutional provision against discrimination.

He further stated that the essence of the Bill is to “give equal opportunity to all and sundry” and explained that the Bill stipulates that the person with disabilities who will benefit from the affirmative action would also have to be qualified for the positions being offered.

Hon. Kannike contributed to the debate, saying he supported the “spirit and intent” of the Leader @femigbaja in sponsoring the bill, as people with disabilities have been ignored for too long as is evident in the structure and design of public facilities. He, however, also raised concerns about statistical provisions contained in the Bill and queried whether the percentage of people with disabilities in Nigeria corresponds to the 20% being recommended.

Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki also joined the debate, saying that the term “disability” must be clearly defined as he recently saw recruitment adverts from the Nigerian Police which listed “bow legs” as a form of disability.

Hon. Ogene Egoh also said that people with disabilities have suffered a lot in Nigeria and called on all Members to support the Bill. He also echoed concerns about the statistical provision of the Bill.

Hon. Ayo Omidiran also lent her voice in support of the Bill, saying: “We would be doing ourselves a huge favour by passing this bill.”

Hon. Aminu Shagari, who clarified that the proper term is “people with disabilities” and not “physically challenged people”, suggested that instead of “companies”, the Armed Forces could be made to have a quota for people with disabilities in certain departments.

Hon. Betty Apiafi raised concerns about enforcement.

Speaker Dogara put the question and the ayes had it. The Clerk read the long title and the Bill was referred to the Committee on Labour, Employment and Productivity.

The House passed through second reading, A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba to make Comprehensive Provisions for its due Management and Administration; and for Related Matters (HB. 1259) (Senate) (Leader). The Bill was referred to the Committee of the Whole.

The House passed through second reading, A Bill for an Act to Amend the Federal Colleges of Education Act, Cap. F8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to align the Colleges of Education affected by Boundary Adjustments as a Result of States Creation and to Establish Federal College of Education, Malam Madori, Jigawa State to Address the Current Imbalance in the Establishment and Distribution of Federal Institutions in the State; and for Related Matters (HB. 1260)(Senate) (Leader). The Bill was referred to the Committee of the Whole.

The House also passed through second reading, A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal College of Education, Jama’Are Bauchi State to Provide fulltime Courses, Teaching Instruction and Training in Technology, Applied Science, Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities and Management; and for Related Matters (HB. 1216) (Hon. Isa H. Mohammed). The Bill was referred to the Committee on Tertiary Education and Services.

The House adopted the following motions;

Deplorable Condition of the First Niger Bridge and Call for Preventive Maintenance of the Bridge:

Hon. Obinna Chidoka.

The House:

Notes that the First Bridge across River Niger linking Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State was built over 50 years ago during the Administration of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa;

Also notes that the bridge was badly damaged during the Nigerian civil war and subsequently repaired and had been of immense benefits to Nigerians and foreign nationals alike who ply the South Eastern and South South routes:

Aware that the bridge is the only link between the South East, South South, South West and some Northern States, as the Second Niger Bridge is still at its early stage of construction;

Also aware that the first Niger bridge is currently in an advanced state of disrepair which is raising the threat of its collapse that would lead to traffic build up and excruciating pains to commuters, who sometimes experience traffic delays of up to eight or more hours in a bid to cross the Bridge;

Further aware that the poor state of the bridge has been of grave concern to well-meaning Nigerians, resulting in the conception of a Second Niger Bridge project as an alternative route to contain the very heavy traffic across the First Niger Bridge from all parts of the country;

Resolves to:

Mandate the Committee on Works to pay a working visit to the First Niger Bridge to assess its condition;

Urge the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to undertake urgent technical assessment as well as immediate reinforcement, repairs and rehabilitation of the First Niger Bridge to avoid its collapse;

Call on the Ministry to develop and implement routine preventive maintenance programme for the First Niger Bridge, and indeed all bridges on Federal roads across the country;

Also call on the Ministry to expedite work on the Second Niger Bridge project to relieve the pains and sufferings of Nigerians plying the First Niger Bridge.

Need to Investigate the Activities of the Bank of Industry on the Controversial Sales of its Shares and Equity Holdings without Due Process, Sales of Properties Previously Declared Missing, Violation of Hiring Procedures in the Appointment of Executive Directors and its Financial Activities from 2010 to 2015:

Hon. E. J. Agbonayinma:

The House:

Notes the allegation that the Bank of Industry, which is one of Nigeria’s major development financial institutions with government and private ownership, controversially sold some of its assets and shares in WAMPO Nigeria Plc as well as its equity holdings in Dangote Properties to the public without following due process;

Also notes that the Management of the Bank under Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa unilaterally awarded the sale of the shares to BGL Securities Limited despite the fact that the Bank of Industry Investment and Trust Company (BOIITC), a subsidiary of the Bank could have effectively handled the transaction;

Further notes that awarding the sale contract to BGL Securities Limited may have been done with the intention of favouring cronies of the managing director to snap up the shares in WAMPCO that were valued at N40 billion and also to ensure that details of the transaction were kept secret;

Observes that the Bank’s subsidiary company, BOIITC lost about N400 million in revenues by being denied the deal and two staff of the bank, Mr. Rakiya Zubairu and Mr. Sonny Ekadayo, were sacked for revealing the deal and other unethical transactions and practices going on in the Bank;

Informed that some properties of the Bank that were declared missing were also disposed of inappropriately and the licence of BGL Securities Limited has been withdrawn by the regulatory authority and its top officials barred from practice over violations of rules governing capital market operations;

Also informed by inside sources that signatures of some past managing directors of the Bank are still active on the signature mandates in some accounts of the Bank;

Recalls the audit report which observed a deposit of N2 billion made on 13 May 2011 into the Bank’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria which source was unknown and the money was not remitted to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) as was required by the Federal Government;

Concerned that a financial statement with several infractions was signed off by the Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Acting Managing Director of the Bank;

Also concerned that the appointment of four (4) Executive Directors were made in violation of the hiring procedures in that while it is required for the Minister to make recommendation to the President who shall approve the nomination, the Bank went ahead with the appointments as there are no records of the approval of the President;

Resolves to:

Set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the:

financial improprieties at the Bank of Industry from 2010 to 2015, including the Management of the Bank on the sales of overN40 billion of its shares in WAMPCO Nig. Plc without due process, its equity holdings in Dangote Properties and also the properties that had been declared missing; and procedures followed in the of hiring of four (4) Executive Directors without the approval of the President of Nigeria.

Urgent Need to Investigate Alleged Diversion of Funds Appropriated for the Power Sector and Apparent Disregard of Due Process in the Awards of Power Projects.

Hon. Abubakar Yunusa Ahmad

The House:

Notes that the country has been grappling with challenges of power for a longtime now despite efforts by successive Administrations to address the situation due to the centrality of power in the development and economic advancement of any nation;

Also notes that the present Administration has made the provision of adequate power a cardinal programme in its scheme of projects that will herald the industrialization of the country;

Aware that funds were appropriated by the National Assembly in the 2016 and 2017 budgets for various power projects, some of which were awarded and are at various stages of completion, while others are yet to be awarded;

Further notes the allegation that the bulk of the funds appropriated in the 2016 and 2017 budgets for the power projects was expended without regard to due process as a result that contractors handling various projects are not being paid, a case in point being the Zungeru Hydro Power Project;

Concerned that failure to pay contractors might lead to increase in the costs of the projects, apart from heightening the restiveness of resettled communities which could present huge risks to the execution of the projects;

Resolves to:

Set up and adhoc committee to investigate the alleged diversion of funds appropriated for the power sector and the apparent disregard of due process in the awards of power projects, and report back in six (6) weeks for further legislative action.

Call for Investigation of Nigeria Customs Service Surveillance Operatives Deployed at the Borders across the Federation:

Hon. Wole Diya:

The House:

Notes that the Nigeria Customs Service was established as a revenue collection agency with the responsibility to manage the nation’s borders and curtail smuggling activities that reduce the revenues accruable to the coffers of the Federal Government;

Also notes that the Customs Service derives its budgetary allocations annually from the Federal Government in order to enable it train its personnel and procure needed equipment for optimal performance of its statutory responsibilities;

Aware of recurring allegations that officials of the Service routinely engage in corrupt activities aimed at self-enrichment to the detriment of enhancing the revenue base of the nation;

Also aware of allegations that some corrupt officials of the Service aid and abet smuggling, especially those dealing on Rice who pay their ways into the country, only for the same customs officials to start chasing traders who bought those bags of Rice for sale, at times raiding markets or mounting road blocks for the exercise, rather than preventing the smuggling of the products into the country, in the first place;

Concerned by incidents of random shooting of ordinary Nigerians by surveillance operatives of the Customs Service at various land borders in the guise of curtailing smuggling activities and also indiscriminate shooting at various cities across the nation;

Recalls specific shooting incidents of 17 January 2018 when six (6) customs officials in a patrol van shot a person dead at Abule-Egba, Lagos while pursuing rice smugglers and that of 18 January 2018 where operatives shot a pregnant woman, also at Lagos;

Cognizant of the need for the Federal Government to revamp the Customs Service for a more efficient and effective operations and to conform to international best practices;

Resolves to:

(i) Urge the Federal Government to put in place measures to ensure regular monitoring of surveillance operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service to avert unwarranted shooting of innocent citizens;

(ii) Mandate the Committee on Customs and Excise to interface with the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service with a view to ascertaining whether its financial operations are in line with financial regulations and also investigate the unwarranted killings and shooting of people which are causing fear among the populace, and report back in eight (8) weeks for further legislative action.

Urgent Need to Revisit the Establishment of Ekiti Airport:

Hon. Segun Alexander Adekola

The House:

Notes that airports are important and integral part of economic infrastructure which contribute significantly to the economic growth, potential and development of any state or nation and provides the necessary connectivity and accessibility required in the movement of people and goods, thereby promoting industrialization, employment generation, wealth creation, revenue generation, provision of services and promotion of tourism;

Aware that sometime in 2007, the Federal Government gave technical approval for the establishment of airports in Bayelsa, Delta, Gombe and Ekiti States, which was re-stated

by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan while on a State visit to Ekiti in 2011;

Also aware that while other States whose airport projects were approved alongside that of Ekiti had either made theirs operational or got them to various stages of completion through collaborative effort with the Federal Government, that of Ekiti State has been stalled by political considerations;

Cognizant of the fact that Ekiti State is home to Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), a world class University that can boast of having students from all over the States of the Federation and also the Ikogosi Warm Spring, Erinta Water Falls, Oroke Ewo War Centre, Ilupeju Ekiti, Erin Ayonigba Fish River, Erinyan Ekiti, and Fajuyi Park;

Also cognizant of the fact that the proposed airport would bring Ekiti State into limelight with its emerging economy and attract investors as well as tourists who have flair for comfort into the State, given that it does not have any railway line or any other alternative means of transportation save through the roads, with all the routes leading to the State in various state of disrepair;

Further cognizant that there is an urgent need for the establishment of an airport in Ekiti State in order to open it to the outside world and serve as a catalyst for the development of the State;

Resolves to:

Mandate the Committee on Aviation to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Transportation to revisit the airport project that was planned for Ekiti State and ensure its early completion to boost the economic, social and tourism potentials of the State.

The House in the Committee of the Whole considered the following reports;

A Bill for an Act to Establish the Institute of Chartered Biochemists and Molecular Biologists charged with Responsibilities to, among other things, Determine the Standard of Knowledge and Skills to be attained by persons seeking to become registered Biochemists and Molecular Biologists, Register such Persons, Regulate and Control their Practice and Review those Standards from time to time, as Circumstances may Permit; and for Related Matters (HB.1142) (Leader) (Committee of the Whole: 2/11/2017).

Report of the Committee on Commerce on a Bill for an Act to Establish the Chartered Institute of Commodity Brokers of Nigeria (CICBN); (HB. 417) (Laid: 1/2/2018) (Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga)

The House resumed consideration of the Report of the Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Film Corporation Act, Cap. N109, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-enact the Nigerian Film Commission Bill, 2018 to Regulate and Develop the Film Industry in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB. 584) (Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun Dokun)

Plenary was adjourned at 2:20 p.m., until 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

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