The National Assembly yesterday seized control of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) from the President with amendment of the Act establishing the bodies.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over a 13-count charge bordering on false assets declaration. The House of Representatives had in May passed the bill and sent it to Senate for concurrence. Further debate on the bill was suspended in April at the Senate following public outcry that trailed its consideration.
The Senate yesterday debated and concurred with the House after presentation of the report by Chairman Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East).
Anyanwu had while presenting the report said the amendment intends to “relocate” the power to exercise authority over the Bureau from Mr. President to the National Assembly.
Key areas amended were section 18(1, 2) of the Act by substituting the President with the National Assembly. The section provided that the CCB, CCT be controlled by the President.
The section now reads, 18 (1) “The National Assembly may by order exempt any cadre of public officers from the provisions of this Act if it appears to him that their position in the public service is below the rank which it considers appropriate for the application of those provisions.”
Section 18 (2) was amended to read thus, “The National Assembly may by order confer on the Bureau such additional powers as may appear to it to be necessary to enable it to discharge more effectively the functions conferred upon it under this Act.”
The lawmakers also deleted section 1(4) of the Act and replaced it with, “the Chairman and members shall serve for a term of five years subject to renewal for one further term only.”
In the existing Act, section 1(4) reads, “The Chairman and any member shall vacate office upon attaining the age of seventy.”
The National Assembly also amended section 3(d) to make it compulsory for any case of breach or non-compliance to be brought to the notice of the person concerned to enable him make a written admission of such breach or non-compliance and where such is done, there shall be no reference to the tribunal.
Also, section 20(2) was introduced to ensure that a minimum of three members of the Tribunal sit at all times. It reads, “The Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and four others; and three of the five shall form quorum.” In the existing law, quorum was not mentioned.
It also introduced section 20(4) to subject the appointment of the Tribunal members by the President to the confirmation of the Senate. The introduction of section 20(4) was against the existing law that says, “the chairman and other members of the Tribunal shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.”
The lawmakers rejected the amendment of section 1 (2) that recommended that the entry age of the chairman and members of the Bureau be reduced from 50 to 30 years.
The passage of the bill came at a time when key bills of the executive have been pending at the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in January sent the “The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2016″ and “The Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016” to the National Assembly.
In May, Buhari also forwarded two bills tagged, “Acts for Domestication of Agreements for Avoidance of Double Taxation between Nigeria and South Korea. Spain, and Sweden respectively.