Abuja — The Senate on Wednesday, suspended discussions of the Conference Committee Report on the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (Amendment) Bill, 2012.
This followed the division among the Senators over the insertion of a clause which deals with National Coordinating Bodies in counter terrorism offences.
The clause vested specific powers and functions in the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), and relevant law enforcement and security agencies.
The Senate passed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill, 2012 on Oct. 17, with the recommendation that an offender under the Act should face life imprisonment.
The House of Representatives, earlier on Oct. 11, passed its own version recommending death sentence for anybody found to have committed an offence under the Act.
The conference committee of the two chambers in its harmonised report, adopted death sentence as maximum punishment as proposed by the House of Representatives.
Sen. Ita Enang (PDP- Akwa Ibom), observed that the Senate could not prescribe roles for Special Advisers, adding that the Constitution had empowered the President to appoint his Special aides.
He said that the clause was defective because the Parliament was not empowered by law to assign roles and responsibilities to Presidential aides.
According to him, adopting the clause will amount to the lawmakers taking over the functions of the executive.
In similar vein, Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP- Enugu, observed that Order 1 of the Senate Standing Rules provided the Upper Chamber "a leeway" to mandate the conference committee to address the anomaly.
The session became heated when the issue was put to vote as the Senate was sharply divided between lawmakers in support of the retention of the clause and those who opposed it.
Consequently, the Senate President, Sen. David Mark called on the Senate Leader, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba to move a motion for the Senate "to suspend discussion on this until further consultations are done".
Responding Ndoma-Egba said: "In view of the storm we've found ourselves, I move that we step down this report until the water is calmed down."
The Senate, therefore, adjourned till Thursday, Dec. 20, to consider the 2013 Appropriation Bill. NAN