Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru, has said that the reports on anti-corruption Bills in the Senate are ready and will be laid for passage soon.
Umaru who was reacting to remarks credited to the Attorney General of the Federation to the effect that the President is disappointed that the National Assembly has refused to pass the bills, said the AGF’s comment was made out of lack of understanding with regards to the workings of the legislature.
He said that the 8th Senate does not delay bills but takes its time to ensure that it passes bills that would stand the test of time and in line with international best practices.
Umaru in an interview with reporters in Abuja said: “The comment of the AGF is not a fair comment. It is a comment made out of lack of understanding with regards to workings of the legislature.
“In this 8th Senate, we do not foot-drag on any Bill. We have a rule and process that guides all our legislation. Each Bill that comes up must go through the whole gamut of the process.
“Take for example the Criminal and Mutual Assistance Bill of 2016. When the President’s letter was read on the floor as an Executive Communication, that constituted the First Reading of the Bill.
“Then, it went through Second Reading, and after that, it was sent to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, which I Chair, to handle it jointly with the Committees on Anti-Corruption and Foreign Affairs.
“For a Bill like this, it is incumbent on us to conduct a public hearing. Hence, we did conduct one, where we took public views from stakeholders that included the Ministry of Justice, Law Reforms Commission, EFCC, and CBN.
After we sought the views of experts, we then sat down as a Committee, to review every clause, vis-a-vis, the opinions expressed by stakeholders and experts. This is virtually concluded. We are now working to produce the Report, which will see it being presented to the plenary for consideration,” he said.
On when the report is expected to be presented, the Senator said: “The report will be presented very soon. Any moment from now,” while noting that every bill goes through the same processes.
According to him, the 8th Senate has decided that it will not rubber-stamp any Bill that has not gone through the laid down procedure and scrutiny, including taking the opinion of the public.
“Therefore, I do not expect the AGF to think that when he brings a Bill to the parliament today, tomorrow he gets the law,” Umaru said: “The laws we make here, including this one, are laws for all Nigerians not for the executive or the legislature alone.
“This is why the people must get what they fully deserve. Our laws must meet international standards. Therefore, international best practices must be observed in law making.
“Every Anti-Corruption Bill before the National Assembly is being worked on. They are all receiving adequate attention. We are determined to support the executive in this lofty goal of fighting corruption.
“We will not waver on this. The Senate President is committed — and he has shown the capacity to ensure that all such Bills receive expeditious but thorough processing.”
On the Whistle Blower Bill, Umaru said: “This Bill has also gone beyond Public Hearing stage. The report is being prepared, so that it can be laid at the Senate plenary.
“There is also another Anti-Corruption Bill, with the Anti-Corruption Committee, and I am sure that they are working seriously on it. Therefore, there is no basis to conclude that the Senate is stalling the passage of any executive or anti-corruption Bill.”