We will pass anti-graft bills into law soon, Senate tells AGF


by Azeez Adeniyi

The Senate has said reports on the anti-corruption bills are ready and will be passed soon.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru said this while reacting to a comment by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who reportedly said President Muhammadu Buhari was disappointed that the National Assembly had failed to pass the bills.

In a statement issued by the Office of the President of the Senate on Friday, Umaru said the SGF lacked the understanding of now the legislature work.

Umaru was quoted as saying, “The comment by 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 guide 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.”

Umaru stressed that the 8th Senate had decided that it would not rubber-stamp any bill that had not gone through the laid down procedure and scrutiny, including taking the opinion of the public.

He added, “Therefore, I do not expect the AGF to think that when he brings a bill to the parliament today, tomorrow he gets the law. 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.”

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