Electoral offences, entrepreneurship bank bills suffer setback in NASS

The bills seeking to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission and the Electoral Offences Tribunal as well as the Entrepreneurship Development Bank of Nigeria were on Thursday stepped down by the House of Representatives.

This followed the tussle among lawmakers on the sponsorship of the bills when they were mentioned for the second reading at plenary.

The national electoral offences commission and the electoral offences tribunal bill is aimed at providing the legal framework for the investigation and prosecution of electoral offences for the general improvement of the electoral process in Nigeria.

It has Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, leader of the House; Aishatu Dukku, chairman House committee on electoral matters; Francis Uduyok from Akwa-Ibom and Kingsley Chinda from Rivers as sponsors.

But, when the bill was put for lead debate, Ado-Doguwa said he was not consulted before his name was included even as the lead sponsor.

“When you have a bill of this nature, the leader should be consulted, I was not consulted. And my name is included,” Doguwa said.

Also, John Dyegh (PDP, Benue) raised a point of order that he had sponsored the same bill in the previous assembly and it got to the level of presidential assent and wondered why a similar bill was coming up again.

“I sponsored this same bill in the previous assembly, it went through all the readings and got to the point of it being signed by Mr President and the president referred it back for it to be included in the electoral act. It came back and was included, unfortunately, it wasn’t signed.

“I brought it up again in this assembly and it was cleaned up, only remaining for the report to be taken and it was deliberately stepped down and I don’t understand. Today so many bills are coming up on the same matter,” Dyegh argued.

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In his intervention after several arguments, Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House said the bill be stepped down for the necessary legislative processes and re-presented next week Tuesday.

Gbajabiamila said: “It’s a very important bill if truly Dyegh has done so much work on it previously. He deserves to be part of the process. Justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done.

“When you talk about equity, you talk about fairness, and I wonder where the fairness when a man has put in so much work and for some inexplicable reason he finds his bills have been consolidated with three other members and his name is conspicuously absent. So I think we should consolidate or step it down till next week Tuesday.”

Also, the entrepreneurship development bank bill which seeks to among other things, provide medium and long-term finance for indigenous small businesses and encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and small-scale enterprises in Nigeria was sponsored by Olalekan Afolabi (APC, Osun) and Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia).

However, Kalu raised a point of order that he had first brought the bill and should not be listed as a co-sponsor and be given the privilege to lead the debate on the general principles of the proposed legislation.

Gbajabiamila agreed with Kalu and said the bill should be stepped down to reflect the names properly and be taken Tuesday next week.

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