By Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye
Efforts to reverse the passage of the controversial amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau/ Code of Conduct Tribunal Act by the House Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila were met with stiff opposition yesterday.
The amendment of the CCB/ CCT Act removes from the President the powers to appoint and remove the chairman and members of the Bureau and gave the powers to the National Assembly.
The House had amended Sections 1(4), 4 (2), and 10(3) in May, 2016.
In the amendment of 4 (2), the word “President” was substituted with “the National Assembly”
In Section 1(4) a new provision was inserted which provides that “the Chairman and members shall serve for a term of five years subject to renewal for one further term only.”
The previous provision that “the chairman and any member shall vacate office upon attaining the age of 70” was jettisoned.
Also, a new subsection (3) was inserted into Section 10(3). it provides that: “a public officer shall not accept personal gifts or benefits from any person whom he knows or reasonably believes shall transact business with him in the course of his duty to such extent and such occasions as are recognized by customs.”
Gbajabiamila, while speaking under a Point of Order yesterday cautioned that the amendment of the Act was an affront on the constitution. According to him, moving the bill for a second reading was a “‘violent infraction of the constitution’.”
Speaker Yakubu Dogara, he said, should ensure that the reputation of the House as the voice of the ordinary people is not corrupted under under his leadership.
His words: “This House has always been the House of the people. We have never been detached from public opinion or perception.
“It is not under your leadership and our membership, that the House will lose its integrity. When we discovered that the clauses are infractions to the constitution, we should put our brakes and reconsider it.”
Gbajabiamila quoted sections 1 (3), Part 1 Schedule 5, Section 17: 1&4 and Section 15 (3&4) of the 1999 Constitution on the appointment of members of the CCB; appointment, removal and retirement age of the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
He said on the day the amendment passed, 40 bills were passed and the contents and clauses were not thoroughly examined. He added that even when it was obvious that the amendment was contradictory to constitutional provisions, the CCB Act was passed. He urged the House to reconsider its amendment of the bill.
At this point however, many members were clamoring to speak and had their hands up for the Speaker’s recognition.
Kingsley Chinda who was given the floor by the Speaker noted that in accordance with Order 9 (6) of the House Rules, there is need for Gbajaniamila to come by a substantive motion if he is asking that a passed bill be reconsidered.
Another member, Edward Pwajok said Section 58 of the constitution stipulates that the President could either give or withhold assent after the passage of a bill the National Assembly.
The House Leader explained that the bill is yet to be transmitted to the President for assent and that the point of order he cited allows for a suspension of the House rules and a subsequent re- consideration of his motion.
The Speaker who described Gbajabiamila’s motion as “an ambush situation” subsequently ruled that the House Leader should come through a substantive motion.
He however said the motion should be put on notice “so everyone will be prepared and we will have ample time for it.”
The Senate had on Thursday October 27 passed the bill in concurrence with the House of Representatives