In a session presided over by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senate yesterday began legislative moves to review the Code of Bureau (CCB) and the Conduct Tribunal (CCT) by initiating amendment to the Code of Conduct Act to “ensure the fair hearing for the accused” as well as restricting the CCT from adjudicating on criminal matters.
Though the President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, abstained for undisclosed reasons, the second reading of the Bill, tagged “Code of Conduct Act Cap C15 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2016,” was done yesterday on the floor of the red chamber. Ekweremadu explained that the amendment was not intended to influence Saraki’s trial for alleged false declaration of assets.
The controversial legislation, which was introduced and went through first reading last Tuesday, is sponsored by Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta North).
Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill earlier, Nwaoboshi explained that: “The amendment of Section 3 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act is to give every public officer appearing before the Bureau fair hearing as provided for under Section 36 (2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”
The proposed amendment reads: “The functions of the Bureau shall be to –
(a) receive asset declarations by officers in accordance with the provisions of this Act;
(b) take and retain custody of such asset declarations; and
(c) examine the asset declarations and ensure that they comply with the requirements of this Act and of any Law for the time being in force if otherwise the Bureau shall invite the public officer concerned and take down his statement in writing.
(d) receive complaints about non-compliance with or breach of this Act and where the Bureau having regard to any statement taken or to be taken after such subsequent complaint is made considers it necessary to do so, investigate the complaint and where appropriate refer such complaints to the Code of Conduct Tribunal established by Section 20 of this Act and the Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Sections 20 to 25 of this Act.”
Lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, hailed the proposal and called on the chamber to speedily pass the bill in order to restructure the CCB and CCT for optimal performance.