Senate President, David Mark, on Monday denied an allegation that the National Assembly was bribed to pass the tobacco control bill.
He spoke while opening a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Health.
Mark said no senator could collect any bribe because of the sensitive nature of the bill.
He said, “Every senator will answer his name. It is not a bill that will call for a voice vote. Everyone will be made to say yes or no so that the public will know where we stand on the issue.
“For a serious bill like this to go through the next reading, people will have to really say where they stand.
“We must begin to accept that Nigerian legislators are patriotic. They don’t need to be bribed before they do their job.
There is much rumor in air. If you have a strong case make your case, when you fail to make your case, then you go with the excuse that people have been bribed.
“Any bill that comes here will pass through the normal process.”
Urging the committee to be fair to opinions from the stakeholders at the public hearing before reading a conclusion on the bill, Mark said. “We stand between health and economy; that is the truth of the matter on the ground. People who are against it are worried about the impact on the health of Nigerians. People who are for it are saying that the nation stands to benefit from it.
“The simple question is when do you begin to worry about economy? Is it when you are dead or when you are alive?
“I admit that there are lobbyists on both sides. No doubt about that. The manufactures are lobbying many people in the country. They have a strong lobbying group all over the world.
“The key issues are health versus economy. How many jobs can we provide from the tobacco industry? How many people are going to lose their jobs if the tobacco industries are not producing?
“If the tobacco industries here close down, will it stop Nigerians from smoking, is one thing, getting the industry going so that people can be gainfully employed is another thing.”
The British American Tobacco (BAT), represented by its Head of Regulatory Affairs, Mr Tony Okwoju, said the regulation was meant to reduce the impact of smoking on public health.
But the said regulation should not be used to “force law-abiding businesses out of operation and leaving the market at the mercy of smugglers”.
The representative of the World Health Organisaton (WHO), Dr Soyinka, said the industry had impacted negatively on the nation’s health.
Tobacco farmers Associations from Oyo and Abia states said about 500,000 Nigerians would lose their jobs if tobacco is banned in the country.
The committee chairman, Senator Iyabo Obansanjo Bello said: “There is no doubt about the health effects of tobacco.
“The world has come to a consensus that there are some detrimental health effects of tobacco.”
Bello’s Gunmen After My Life, Family -Kogi Dep Gov
Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba yesterday alleged that the governor of the state has sent gunmen after his life.
Acbuba called on the inspector General of Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Army and other security personnel to safeguard his life, family members and his aides.
Achuba, who spoke with newsmen at his official residence in Lokoja said, “From all information at my disposal, the governor has mobilised gunmen to attack me.
“I want the police, SSS, IGP to know that if anything should happen to me, my family and aides, the governor should be held responsible.”
The deputy governor likewise called on the President to beam his searchlight on the state.
LGAs Responsible For Farmers, Herdsmen Clashes In Nigeria -UN
Zebulon Takwa, Peace and Development Adviser, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, says poor Local Government administration is largely responsible for farmers-herdsmen clashes in Nigeria
Takwa, who gave the position in an interview with newsmen yesterday in Abuja, expressed concerns over “weak operational structures at the local government level’’.
He said that issues that were supposed to be addressed by local administration authority were left unattended to over a long period.
The UN official noted that most of the issues that escalated to crises ought to have been resolved at the local level by the authorities, traditional and religious leaders.
He decried the situation where structures for such prompt amicable settlement were not effective enough to prevent conflicts.
Takwa condemned the situation where most local government officials migrated to urban centres instead of concentrating on their primary responsibilities of settling crises, developing infrastructure and social amenities, among others.
Reprisal Killing: Taraba Police, Tiv, Junkun Differ On Casualities
The Police Command in Taraba State has said that only one individual was killed in what appeared to be a revenge for the alleged murder of a Junkun man yesterday.
While the Tiv claimed that no fewer than nine of their kinsmen were killed in Takum town, Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State on Tuesday, the Police said the figure was not true.
Takum is the hometown of Governor DariusIshaku who turned 65 today.
Multiple sources in Takum said trouble started yesterday morning when a Jukun man was killed on his farm along Takum-Wukari road, and irate Jukun youths in Takum went on the rampage, killing at least eight people in the town.
A resident of Takum, Mr. Nathaniel Jato, in a telephone interview with our Correspondent said the eight people killed in Takum town were all Tiv resident in the town.
“We counted at least eight dead bodies around General Hospital Junction and Zenith Bank around the Wukari roundabout.
“We were told that many people were killed around Rimi Primary school area, but there is tension, so we can’t go there.
“The Caretaker Chairman of Takum Local Government Council, ShibanTikari, has assured us that the situation will not escalate, but I am afraid the situation might degenerate if adequate security measures are not put in place,” he lamented.
Jato, who said there was threat that their houses would be attacked in the night, called on Governor Darius Ishaku and security authorities to quickly restore peace in the area to pave way for proper investigation of the matter.
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