Nigeria: Investigating SSS Court Invasion, Ending Discrimination Against Policewomen, Top Senate Discussions Last Week

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15 December 2019

Nigerian senators last week commenced the amendment of the law that allows for the discrimination against women in the Nigeria Police Force.

The lawmakers also finally discussed the invasion of a court by State Security Service operatives.

Here are some of the key issues discussed by the lawmakers.

Tuesday

At the expiration of the tenure of Babatunde Fowler as the chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on December 9, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of Muhammad Nami as Mr Fowler's successor. The latter's name and that of other new board members of the agency were forwarded by the president to the Senate on Tuesday for confirmation.

Also, in a letter sent by the president to the Senate the same day, Muiz Banire was relieved of his duty as the head of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the name of Edward Adamu was tabled as a replacement for Mr Banire who had been 17 months on the job.

For the second time in the Senate, lawmakers got closer to renaming the Federal Polytechnic, Daura, Katsina State, after Mustapha Bukar, who, until he died in April, 2018, had sponsored the bill that established the polytechnic while representing Katsina North. Ahmad Kaita, who now represents Katsina North, sponsored the bill to rename the polytechnic after the deceased lawmaker.

Wednesday

The unemployment in the country, which as of third quarter of 2018 by NBS estimates was 23.1 per cent and could reach 33.5 per cent by 2020, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, worried lawmakers of the upper chamber. They asked the federal government to initiate a sustainable unemployment fund for Nigerian graduates until they get jobs

In spite of the findings by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, that constituency projects has been a conduit for stashing public funds by lawmakers, a bill initiated by Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra), reached second reading. If passed and signed into law, 20 per cent of the country's annual budget would be used to fund these projects.

The Senate also read for the second time the bill to establish a Federal Road Authority, an agency that would be vested with the powers of ownership, regulation, management and development of federal roads networks.

Thursday

Until the chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central), came under order 24 -- which allows lawmakers to raise a motion but forbids others from debating the issue raised -- the Senate took almost a week before it mentioned the brazen invasion of an Abuja courtroom by operatives of the State Security Service, SSS. The committee is expected to submit the report of its findings within a week.

Series of anti-women provisions in the Police Act identified by an Imo State senator, Ezenwa Onyewuchi, in a bill he sponsored, was read for the second time. The bill, if passed, would expunge the gender-discriminatory provisions of regulations 122,123,124 and 127 in the Police Act.

While fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, the spokesperson of the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, said the lawmakers have chosen to keep mum over an ad-hoc committee report on a senator, Elisha Abbo, who was caught on video assaulting a woman. The report cannot be discussed because the matter is in court, he said.

Mr Akwashiki also downplayed the insinuation that crisis was brewing in the upper chamber over a vote of confidence motion that was stood down by the Senate President in the course of the week.

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