Proceedings of the Nigerian Senate of Tuesday, 17th March, 2020

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Welcome to a new Legislative Day in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON led the Principal Officers into the chambers; took the official prayers; and began the day’s proceedings at 10:35am.

‪Senator Tolu Odebiyi moved for the approval of votes and proceedings of Thursday, 12th March 2020. Senator Binos Yaroe seconded.‬

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PETITION
Senator Ayo Akinyelure raised petitions on behalf of individuals seeking legislative intervention.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the petitions raised to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to report in four (4) weeks.

POINT OF ORDER
Senator Oloriegbe Yahaya cited Order 43 and informed the Senate on the current situation of Covid-19 outbreak in the world and the urgent need to be prepared for this epidemic.

“This is one epidemic that should not be limited to the government alone, every citizen has a role to play. We are very lucky and fortunate but I think we should observe all those regulations that the medical experts give us. There is at the moment no testing centre in the South East and the entire North has no testing Centre. We as an Assembly are prepared to support the federal government if they request for money to set up testing in the South East and in the North. The Federal Ministry of Health should come up with a standard testing centre and should be replicated in all the states so states will not just set up an isolation centre base on what they think.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

Senator Adeola Solomon cited Orders 42 & 52 and moved a motion on the urgent need to investigate the explosion in Abule-Ado, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government of Lagos State, resulting in loss of lives and massive destruction of properties.

“I think it is occurring too often and we begin to wonder why. I want to console the family of those that have lost their loved ones in this incident and also want to urge the federal government to come to our aid at this time. We will really appreciate whatever assistance we can get; financially and morally.”- Senator Oluremi Tinubu.

“I commiserate with my colleague, Senator Solomon who is representing that particular community in the Senate. I also commiserate with the state government and the victims. This is one tragedy too many. As we speak we are yet to know the cause of this inferno. This motion will unearth so many of the details about why this is happening very frequently in that part of the country. We need to know the depth of these pipes and how they have been laid.”- Senator James Manager.

“These pipelines were laid 30 years ago and some of them have lived their age. The amount of stealing from the pipelines is so heavy. I think we need to encourage NSCDC to do more. I sympathize with my colleague that brought the motion and I sympathize also with the government of Lagos State.”- Senator George Sekibo.

“This thing is happening so many times and there is a need to look at possible reasons why this is happening. I think the NNPC should enforce the right of way that has been described by law. I commiserate with not only the Lagos State Government but Nigerians who are residing there.”- Senator Boroffice Ajayi.

“The motion is calling for an investigation to unravel the cause of this sad event. A lot of people have died and lost their valuables. It is not good for this kind of thing to continue. We should act in the manner that we are supposed to.”- Senator Barau Jibrin.

“In my own opinion, these disasters are not yet over. We should own it. NNPC, security agencies need to do more. What we have seen in Ijegun clearly shows that we are not yet serious. Vehicles go on top of these pipes and they are in the middle of a community where there are so many inhabitants. NNPC must go back to the drawing board to relocate these pipelines. I think the Senate should call on NNPC to be up and doing in respect of our pipelines and NEMA should see how they can go and compensate these people.”- Senator Sani Musa.

“We have lamented enough, everyday we lament especially on this issue of explosions and fire outbreak due to pipeline, tanker or gas explosion. The earlier we start tackling this issue the better for us. Let NNPC do the needful by either relocating these pipelines or punish their staff that have failed in their duties. Let the government tackle this issue immediately by demolishing illegal structures not just in Lagos but across the states of the federation.”- Senator Sam Egwu.

“This is not just about Lagos State alone, this one that happened is different. This is purely an accident that has now exposed the level at which we take security as it concerns where our pipe passes through. The investigation should be more of those things that we have talked about.”- Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

Senate resolved to:

  1. Observe a minute silence in honour of innocent Nigerians that lost their lives in the unfortunate national tragedy;
  2. Send a high power delegation to Lagos and write a letter of condolence to the people and government of Lagos State;
  3. Direct Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to immediately send relief materials to affected victims and offset medical bills of hospitalized victims;
  4. Urge the Federal Government and members of the National Assembly to donate to the N2 Billion “Abule-Ado Emergency Relief Fund.”;
  5. Direct the Senate Committees on Petroleum Downstream, Gas resources and Petroleum Upstream to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the explosion with a view to prevent reoccurrence, and proffer lasting solutions and report back to the Senate in two weeks.;
  6. All recommendations gotten from the investigation on the explosions that happened in Rivers and Lagos State should be implemented.; and
  7. Direct the NNPC to enforce the rule of right of way and those who are building within there should be declared as irregular settlers.

“I want to sympathize on behalf of all of us with the government and people of Lagos State. Similar thing happened sometime in October and we took resolutions here. I want to advise the executive arm of government that when we take resolutions like this we take them with all seriousness and they mean a lot to Nigerians. It is not good for us to be talking about the same thing. The executive should implement the resolutions we passed in November regarding the explosion that happened.”-Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

“I also want to advise that when our trucks carry loads they should take those loads within the confines that the law allows. We need to really go back to insisting on trucks to carry loads within the weight that is allowed. I also want to advise our town planners not to approve buildings close to pipelines. I think there is need for enforcement of town and urban planning designs by our authorities. May the good Lord rest the souls of those who lost their lives in this incident.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

PRESENTATION OF BILLS- First Reading

  1. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 400) by Senator Stella Oduah.

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 400) was read the First Time.

  1. 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 337) by Senator Istifanus Gyang.

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Alteration) Bill, 2020 (SB. 337) was read the First Time.

  1. University of History and Archeology (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 328) by Senator Aishiru Oyelola Yisa.

University of History and Archeology (Est, etc) Bill, 2020 (SB. 328) was read the First Time.

  1. Terrorism Prevention Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 377) by Senator Gabriel Suswam.

Terrorism Prevention Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB. 377) was read the First Time.

PRESENTATION AND CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS

  1. Report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Nigerian Security Challenges on the need to restructure, review and reorganize the current security architecture in Nigeria by Senate Leader.

Minority Leader seconded that the Senate do receive the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Nigerian Security Challenges on the need to restructure, review and reorganize the current security architecture in Nigeria.

The report was LAID.

  1. Report of Joint Committees on Finance, Appropriations, National Planning & Economic Affairs and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on the urgent need to monitor and examine the current economic reality of the sharp drop in the price of oil and other economic issues caused by the outbreak of deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the uproar within the OPEC Community by Senator Adeola Solomon.

Senator George Sekibo seconded that the Senate do receive and consider the report of Joint Committees on Finance, Appropriations, National Planning & Economic Affairs and Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on the urgent need to monitor and examine the current economic reality of the sharp drop in the price of oil and other economic issues caused by the outbreak of deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the uproar within the OPEC Community.

Senator Adeola Solomon laid and presented the report.

“I want to commend the members of this Joint Committee for a job well done.”- Senator Oluremi Tinubu.

“The current global economy has further shown a lot of our weaknesses. It also affords us an opportunity to rethink our economy and restructure it in a way that meet the needs of our people. I think it is an opportunity for us as a country to reset the economy and look at agencies that need to be streamlined.”- Senator Tolu Odebiyi.

“When oil price falls to a certain level we can agree on 80-60 percent funding of overheads.”- Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari.

“We need to look extensively into overhead.”- Senator Oloriegbe Yahaya.

“I believe we do not need anybody to come and advise us now on the need to suspend foreign trips by government officials. I believe that without wasting time, part of what we should be recommending is immediate suspension of foreign trips.”- Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

“This is an interim report. The recommendations are fine and this is not the final document.”- Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON.

The recommendations of the Committee as amended by the Senate was APPROVED.

CONSIDERATION OF BILLS- Second Reading

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to define who is an indigene of a State and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 323) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to define who is an indigene of a State and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 323) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to enable women be identified as indigenes of a State by virtue of marriage when running for office and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 324) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to enable women be identified as indigenes of a State by virtue of marriage when running for office and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 324) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Independent Candidate in an election and for other matters therein, 2020 (SB. 335) by Senator Stella Oduah.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Independent Candidate in an election and for other matters therein, 2020 (SB. 335) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to specify the minimum number of youths and women appointed as Ministers, Ambassadors and State Commissioners and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 325) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to specify the minimum number of youths and women appointed as Ministers, Ambassadors and State Commissioners and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 325) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 CAP C24 LFN 2004 to make provisions for change of name of the area referred to as “Egbado” in Ogun State to “Yewa” as contained in the First Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended), 2020 (SB. 357) by Senator Tolu Odebiyi.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 CAP C24 LFN 2004 to make provisions for change of name of the area referred to as “Egbado” in Ogun State to “Yewa” as contained in the First Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended), 2020 (SB. 357) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to specify the time frame for the conduct of population census, 2020 (SB. 326) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to specify the time frame for the conduct of population census, 2020 (SB. 326) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to change the selection process of Judges serving as members of an election tribunal, 2020 (SB. 327) by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to change the selection process of Judges serving as members of an election tribunal, 2020 (SB. 327) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Independent Candidate in an election and for other matters therein, 2020 (SB. 339) by Senator Abba Moro.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make provisions for Independent Candidate in an election and for other matters therein, 2020 (SB. 339) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to allow for more representation in the National Assembly for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 361) by Senator Philip Aduda.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to allow for more representation in the National Assembly for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 361) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a State may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from 6 months to 3 months and for other purposes, 2020 (SB. 48) by Senator Rose Oko.

A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to reduce the period within which the President or Governor of a State may authorize the withdrawal of monies from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the absence of an Appropriation Act from 6 months to 3 months and for other purposes, 2020 (SB. 48) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Constitution Review.

  1. A Bill for an Act to amend the Child Right Act 2003, to provide for a person convicted of attempted rape to be unsuitable to work with children and for other matters connected thereto, 2020 (SB. 227) by Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

“The time has come for us to enforce the laws that we have especially those ones that affect our children. Ensuring that we pass this Bill is ensuring peace of mind in the future.”- Senator Biodun Olujimi.

“I will support this very proposed amendment but I think it should punish those who give employment to people whose names are on the sex offenders register.”- Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.

A Bill for an Act to amend the Child Right Act 2003, to provide for a person convicted of attempted rape to be unsuitable to work with children and for other matters connected thereto, 2020 (SB. 227) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Women Affairs to report within four (4) weeks.

  1. A Bill for an Act to provide certain rights and privileges for older persons in order to ensure health and economic reliefs and protection for their social and civil rights and for other related matters, 2020 (SB. 114) by Senator Francis Ezenwa.

“I rise to support this Bill. This Bill is very important.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.

“Everybody will get old and if we do not take care of the old, nobody will take care of us. With this we are replicating what we have in the developed countries.”- Senator Francis Fadahunsi.

“This Is a fantastic Bill and cannot come at a better time than this. The Bill has come at the right time. With this we can take care of the old.”- Senator Philip Aduda.

“I want to commend the sponsor of this Bill because a Bill of the elderly is a Bill very close to my heart. The aged in our society have become an endangered specie. If the older people have social security in terms of financial support, most of the young people would even want to take care of them. Right now growing old has become a burden in our society.”- Senator Oluremi Tinubu.

“It is the Bill of everyone growing old. Growing old is becoming very scary in Nigeria. It is something you do not dream of, it just happens. With this Bill the older ones can be in politics and contribute meaningfully to the development of the nation.”- Senator Biodun Olujimi.

A Bill for an Act to provide certain rights and privileges for older persons in order to ensure health and economic reliefs and protection for their social and civil rights and for other related matters, 2020 (SB. 114) was read the Second Time.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan PhD, CON referred the Bill to the Committee on Women Affairs to report within four (4) weeks.

MOTION

  1. The need to upgrade, decongest and disinfect correctional centers nationwide by Senator Uche Ekwunife.

“This motion has come at a very good time. As at today, over 70 per cent of prison inmates are awaiting trial. Every efforts taken has not addressed the problem. We must make a bold attempt to ensure this problem is solved once and for all. I rise to second this motion that urgent steps be taken to decongest our prisons.”- Senator Abba Moro.

“Most of the people who spent years in prison are misdemeanors that you can even dismissed. Most of the people who are there do not need to be there and they are congesting the place. On disinfecting the place, we need to as a matter of urgency urge the appropriate authority to address the issue raised.”- Senator Gabriel Suswam.

“I think our prison environment is so bad and terrible. Our prison is not a best place to be. Let us support this motion and see how we can give enough funds to build new prisons.”- Senator Rochas Okorocha.

Senate resolved to:

  1. Urge the Correctional Services to adequately profile inmates and separate them accordingly to avoid lumping of light/first offenders with hardened criminals and undertake a national clean up and fumigation of all correctional facilities in the country to avoid outbreak of epidemics;
  2. Urge the Ministry of Interior to commence the process of upgrading facilities in our correctional centers;
  3. Urge the Judiciary, the Ministry of Interior and correctional centers to work together and come up with a workable modality on how to fast track the process of decongesting the correctional centers in the country; and
  4. Urge its Committees on Interior and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to undertake a critical oversight on the state of our correctional centers and report back to the Senate within 4 weeks.

ADJOURNMENT
Senate Leader moved that plenary be adjourned to another legislative day. Minority Leader seconded.

Plenary is adjourned to Wednesday, 18th March, 2020.

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