Plenary Proceedings of The House of Representatives for Wednesday, January 31, 2018
PRESENTATION OF REPORTS
Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration:
Hon. Umar Bago:
“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, No. 17 of 2007 to increase the Functions of the Agency; and for Related Matters”(HBs 1131&1178) (Referred 2/11/2017)
Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration:
Hon. Umar Bago:
“That the House do receive the Report of the Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Maritime Operations Co-ordinating Board Act, Cap. M4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Reconstituting the Maritime Operations Co-ordinating Board for Effective Control of all Maritime Operations in Nigeria’s Territorial Waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone, Create the Maritime Security Fund, Establish Anti-Piracy Offences; and for Related Matters” (HB. 1056) (Referred 14/6/2017)
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Tobi Okechukwu brought a petition from Mr. Okechukwu who fought for Nigeria during the Civil war saving over six hundred people. He has been retired from the Army for long without receiving his benefits and entitlements. He prayed the House to intervene.
Hon. Azodo Eucharia brought a petition from a worker in Federal Medical Center Keffi who noticed some irregularities and exploitation of patients and when he petitioned Management about it, instead of act on his petition, his salary was halted, he prayed for the intervention of the House.
Hon. Rita Orji brought a petition from one of her constituents who had fulfilled all eligibility requirements of entry employment into the Nigeria Police, yet he was denied employment, he prayed the intervention of the House.
A Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State; and for Related Matters, 2018 (HB. 1032) – Third Reading.
A Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigerian Electoral Offences Commission; and for Related Matters (HBs. 504 and 546) – Third Reading.
A Bill for an Act to Establish Federal Polytechnic, Abiriba, Abia State to Provide for Equity and Access to Tertiary Education in the Country, make Comprehensive Provisions for its Management and Administration; and for Related Matters (HB.1263) (Hon. Nkole U. Ndukwe) — Second Reading.
Hon. Nkole sponsored the Bill and Hon. Mohammed Hassan seconded it. The proposed Institution will add to progress in the socio-economic, as well as academic wellbeing of everyone in the catchment area. As an infrastructure related Bill it was voted on and passed.
A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Health Records Officers (Registration, etc.) Act, Cap. H2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-enact the Health Information Practitioners Council of Nigeria for Effective and Efficient Health Information Management, to Regulate the Training, Practice and Management of Health Information System in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB. 1250) (Hon. Mohammad Usman) — Second Reading.
Hon. Usman sponsored the Bill and it was seconded by Hon. Mohammed Jega. Hon. Usman pointed out that the health sector would benefit immensely from this Bill and it would promote patient information and the maintenance of a healthy digital management system in the health sector.
A Bill for an Act to Amend the Federal Character Commission Act, Cap. F7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to give Married Women Option of Indigeneship and to Provide for the Establishment of Federal Character Tribunal for the Prosecution of Violations of the Federal Character Act; and for Related Matters (HBs 1190 and 1203) (Hon. Edward Gyang Pwajok and Hon. Ochiglegor Idagbo) — Second Reading.
Hon. Pwajok sponsored the Bill and Hon. Hassan Adamu seconded it. Hon. Pwajok stated that the Bill is aimed at creating a better inclusiveness in society for the woman, especially the ones seen to have married off to a new family and the said new family still looks at them like an outsider. The Bill will give women the option of choice to adopt where they come from either as indigenes of their birth place or the region they marry into.
Request for Extension of Referral Time to enable the Ad-hoc Committee on the Abuse of Pioneer Status by Companies to conclude work on the matter (Referred: 21/7/2016):
Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi:
Recalls that on Thursday 21 July, 2016, the House constituted an Ad-hoc Committee on the Abuse of Pioneer Status by Companies;
Also recalls that the Ad-hoc Committee was mandated to investigate the matter of the issuance of Pioneer Status to deserving Companies in Nigeria and the Power vested in the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission in accordance with the Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act, IDITRA of 1971 and the Pioneer Status Incentives Regulations of 2014;
Informed that the Ad Hoc Committee has carried out extensive work on the referral but owing to the sensitive nature of the assignment and the voluminous amount of data collected which are being carefully analyzed, the Ad-hoc Committee has not presented its Report in accordance with Order Seventeen, Rule 3(g) of the Standing Orders of the House:
Grant the Ad Hoc Committee an extension of time of eight (8) weeks to enable it conclude the hearings and present its Report to the House for further legislative action
Need to Complete Otukpo-Ajaokuta Railway Project:
Hon. Hassan A. Omale
Notes that the Railway project running from Otukpo in Benue State to Ajaokuta in Kogi State which was started by the Administration of President Shehu Shagari had been abandoned, even after the construction of the Railway Bridge from Itobe-Ajaokuta;
Aware that rail transportation is about the earliest, cheaper and faster means of moving people and goods from one point to the other, and given that the people of the area are predominantly farmers, their produce would have been easily moved to the cities to earn revenues, boost economic activities and advance the diversification of the economy to agriculture;
(i) Call on the Federal Ministry of Transportation to include the completion of the Otukpo-Ajaokuta Railway project in the 2018 budget estimates;
(ii) Mandate the Committees on Land Transport and Appropriations to ensure implementation.
Need to Return the Unutilized Expanses of Land Acquired for Military Barracks to the Host Communities:
Hon. Afe Olowookere:
Notes that in the 1970s, the then Federal Military Government acquired large expanses of land in some States Capitals, measuring about (¼) one-quarter of the land area of the cities for purposes of establishing military barracks;
Also notes that at the time those lands were acquired, the Communities affected could not raise any voice of opposition in spite of the economic deprivation the action constituted considering the draconian nature of military rule;
Further notes that since the acquisition, none of those lands has been put to maximum use by the Military, rather more than 80% of the land has not been occupied, a good example of which is the Owena Army barrack in Akure, Ondo State, Alamala Army barrack in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Ojoo Military Cantonment in Ibadan, Oyo State and the Abuja acquisition that covers Giri-Zuba-Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport;
Informed that the Commandants of those barracks have, using Agents, turned to emergency landlords/land owners and are now giving out the periphery of the lands to people that desire land for economic ventures on an annual rentage and are raking in for themselves colossal amounts of money, while properties of those tenants are usually destroyed in the event of default in payment of rents;
(i) Urge the Federal Ministries of Power, Works and Housing and Defence, in collaboration with the Ministries of Lands in those States, to work out the modalities for the return of those expanses of unutilized lands to the host Communities for productive utilization;
(ii) Mandate the Committees on Defence and Housing to ensure implementation.
Need to Investigate Licensed Lottery Operators for Defaulting in their Financial Obligations to the Federal Government:
Hon. Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas:
Notes that out of the twenty-one (21) licensed Lottery Operators in the country, only about two or three have successfully paid their fees and other taxes to the Federal Government over the last few years, thus leading to the country losing millions of Naira in revenues to the Lottery Operators;
Also notes that all over the world, tax evasion is deemed a very serious offence as most advanced countries sustain their economies through effective and transparent taxation system where operators of businesses pay their taxes promptly;
Aware that the Nigerian Lottery Commission can become one of the revenue generating agencies if the Operators of Lottery are made to pay taxes to the Government as and when due, as the Government needs the money to execute various projects rather than borrowing to fund the annual budget;
Also aware that those Lottery Operators have been defaulting in payments of all their fees to the Commission for more than 10 years now, including the nature and type of games being played, the list of winners and total amount generated;
No. 102 Wednesday, 31 January, 2018523
Recalls that the Acting Director General of the Commission even stated that since his assumption of office about four months ago, the Operators have not been meeting their obligations;
Mandate the Committee on Governmental Affairs to investigate the activities of licensed Lottery Operators from 2000 to date with a view to ensuring that tax defaulters among them are made to pay promptly, and report back within six (6) weeks for further legislative action.
Hon. Namdas moved the Motion which was seconded by Hon. Magaji Garba. Hon. Namdas in leading the debate stated that most of these lottery agents are not registered with government, leading to a large loss of revenue to the government, and the fact that they are not registered means their activities cannot be regulated, meaning most of their activities are shrouded in unverifiable practices shrouded in mystery.
Call for a Cost Analysis of the Monies Recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Cost of Prosecution of Cases:
Hon. Sergius Ose Ogun:
Notes the avowed aim of the present Administration to wage a relentless war against corruption with the EFCC as the arrow head, however the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index still ranks Nigeria 135 out of 170 countries deeply involved in corrupt practices;
Also notes that in order to further reiterate the Administration’s commitment in tackling corruption, the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in May 2016 inaugurated the National Prosecution Coordination Committee (NPCC) to effectively handle prosecution of high profile corruption cases;
Further notes that the tremendous media hype and trial being orchestrated by the EFCC in the past two (2) years through the arrests and prosecution of alleged corrupt persons have not yielded much positive results given that the funds expected to have been recovered so far based on the tonnage of prosecutions undertaken are yet to be reflected in the transparent declaration of the recovered funds, assets and their disposal as well as the costs incurred as fees for the prosecution of those cases and miscellaneous expenses, all of which have been shrouded in secrecy;
Aware of the clear provision of section 36 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act of 2002 that the Commission shall, not later than 30 September in each year, submit to the National Assembly, a report of its activities during the immediately preceding year and shall include in such report, the audited accounts of the Commission;
Mandate the Committees on Public Accounts and Financial Crimes to interface with the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with a view to conducting a cost benefit analysis of the operations of the EFCC regarding the prosecution, professional fees paid and details of remittances made by the Commission to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Discovery Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Item stepped down by leave of the House.
Need to Decongest Nigerian Prisons to Promote the Fundamental Rights of Inmates, International Standards and Best Practices.
Hon. Olufemi Fakeye
Notes that the level of congestion in Nigerian Prisons has become so alarming that they no longer serve as correctional facilities for reformation of inmates;
Also notes the information by the Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), in partnership with the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), showing that only 21,354 inmates (comprising 21,009 males and 345 females) were convicted offenders, while the remaining 46,756 inmates (comprising 45,765 males and 991 females) were still awaiting trial;
Further notes that the United Nations Minimum Standard Rules for Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the UN Nelson Mandela Rules, provide in Rules 12(1) and (2) and 13 that where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night, a cell or room by himself or herself; but that in special cases, such as temporary overcrowding, it is left to the given prison authority to vary this rule, provided that due regard would be paid to climatic conditions and particularly, to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation, etc;
Aware that due to high congestion in virtually all the prisons, the inmates are exposed to risks of epidemics, jail breaks, lack of inmates reform, transmission of bad habits and crime techniques by hardened criminals, anti-social tendencies and moral decadence ranging from homosexuality to other forms of human abuse through illicit relationships which have also become common features of the prisons;
Concerned that congestion in the prisons has become so acute that many cells meant to accommodate about 50 inmates were found to be accommodating up to 150 inmates, a case in point being the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos, which was built to accommodate 956 inmates, but is today occupied by over 2,600 inmates;
Also concerned that the courts have continued to send accused persons to the already overcrowded prisons, even when their offences could have been otherwise handled in line with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015;
Further concerned that the objectives of the Criminal Justice System, the primary purpose of governance under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the 1999 Constitution as well as the Fundamental Rights of Nigerians and several Treaties to which Nigeria is signatory would be negated if the poor state of the prisons is not urgently addressed;
Mandate the Committees on Interior, Human Rights, Federal Judiciary, FCT Judiciary and Police Affairs to conduct an investigative hearing on prison reforms in No. 102 Wednesday, 31 January, 2018525
order to identify the specific challenges in terms of infrastructure, administration of criminal justice system and other factors that could facilitate the decongestion and reform of the prison system and report back in six (6) weeks for further legislative action.
Hon. Fakeye moved the Motion and it was seconded by Hon. Lawal Abubakar. During the debate, Hon. Fayeke pointed out that the state of the Nigerian prison has no correctional value, but tends to harden the inmates. Some prisoners wrongfully jailed have no access to justice. Inmates with minor crimes spend more time than their convictions would have attracted awaiting trial. This he said is sad and should not be. The infrastructural outlook of the prisons should be refurbished nationwide to meet the world standard of Correctional Institutions where sanity, correction, remorse and education should be extolled.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS (HOUSE IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE):
Committee on Agricultural Production and Services:
Hon. M. T. Monguno:
“That the House do consider the Report of the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services on a Bill for an Act to Establish the Fisheries Society of Nigeria charged with Responsibility for Registration and Disciplining of Members of the Profession; and for Related Matters (HB. 595) and approve the recommendations therein” (Laid: 19/7/2017).
Consideration of Report deferred by House
Committee on Police Affairs:
Hon. Haliru Dauda Jika:
“That the House do consider the Report of the Committee on Police Affairs on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Explosives Act, Cap. E18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Relating to their Regulations, Penalties for Defaulters, to make Provisions for the Control of Importation, Manufacture, Distribution, Storage, Possession and Use of Firecrackers and Explosives, to Repeal the Explosives Act, Cap. E.18, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-enact the Explosives Act, 2017 to make Comprehensive Provisions for the Use and Control of Explosives in Nigeria; and for Matters Connected Therewith (HBs 379, 498, 552 and 670)” (Laid: 9/11/2017).
Consideration of Report deferred by House
The House adjourned Plenary till Thursday, February 1 by 11:00 Am