The Senate yesterday resolved to investigate all cases of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the police, Nigerian Army and other security agencies purportedly inspired by the executive arm of government.
It also set out to summon the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for explanation.
The red chamber said it would identify the culprits, victims and offer redress where necessary.
These scheduled positions were listed on the order paper for sponsorship by Senator David Umaru entitled, “Alarming rise in cases of alleged human rights violations and consistent assault on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution by the executive”.
Although this motion was adopted but stepped down for another legislative day, Umaru affirmed that in the last few years, Nigeria’s democratic credentials have become questionable following alarming cases of alleged state-inspired human rights violations and consistent constitutional infractions perpetrated by agencies of government.
Notable instances of such human rights abuses, according to the lawmaker, is the continuous detention of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), for over two years in total disregard of over four court orders including that of the ECOWAS court.
Other such violations are the continuous incarceration of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, lack of accountability for human rights violations by security agencies and other militant elements including armed herdsmen, heavy-handed violent responses to peaceful protests as exemplified by previous crackdown on agitators from the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The upper chamber also interrogated the recent violent clashes between the police and suspected members of the IMN, who were protesting for the release of their leader, El-Zakzaky, in Abuja and Kaduna, respectively.
The lawmakers, in addition, raised alarm over allegations of the country sliding into anarchy and despotism with indices of indiscriminate arrests, unconstitutional detention of citizens under questionable circumstances, including Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.
The upper chamber also queried the recent enactment of the controversial executive order No. 006 which permits security agencies to freeze the assets of persons standing trial without recourse to court order, alleged violent attacks on judicial officers and the release of $496million from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) for the purchase of 12 super Tucano aircraft.
It was on this premise that the lawmakers urged the Federal Government to empanel a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate all the said cases of human rights abuse as allegedly committed.
Meanwhile, coming just few days after President Buhari’s signing of executive order to freeze and confiscate assets those facing corruption charges, the House of Representatives has indicated its readiness to strip President Muhammadu Buhari of powers to freeze and forfeit assets of Nigerians under prosecution or not .
The Representatives said the move is to deepen democracy and ensure true separation of powers amongst the three arms of government as constitutionally, only Judges of high courts now have such powers.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara disclosed this yesterday in his statement at a public hearing on a Bill to amend the currency conversion (Freezing Orders) Act.
Dogara stressed that the three arms of government should be strengthened to effectively perform their constitutional responsibilities, as such deepening democracy to the fullest.
Dogara, who was represented by the deputy minority leader of the House, Hon. Chukwuka Onyeama, regretted that the executive arm was previously usurping the powers of the judiciary to adjudicate and give rulings and orders.
He said it was time that the legislature rose up to play its constitutional roles in crafting laws that will protect both private and public financial investments.
His words ‘’ the essence of the Bill for an Act to amend the Currency Conversion(Freezing Orders) Act is the discretionary power being sought for the judge of the high court to order the freezing and forfeiture of assets of affected persons. ” which previously was exercised by the President
“In the present Act, the power to freeze and forfeit is vested in the president, which invariably usurps and erodes the prerogative power of the judiciary to adjudicate and give rulings and orders’’
He noted that too many petitions were before the House pertaining to breaches, which require such action like this which aims at protecting investments interest and rights and in so doing, protect and develop the Nigerian economy.
The speaker also spoke of two other bills; Bill for an Act to establish Factoring (Assignment Of Receivables) 2018, and a Bill to repeal the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank,(Guarantee) Act, which governs the operations of the Bank of Industry, BOI. He said of was imperative to repeal the law because it was inhibiting the full and effective discharge of the bank’s duties of meeting financial yearnings of individuals and groups seeking to do business in Nigeria.
In his welcome address, chairman of the House committee on banking and currency, Hon. Jones Onyereri (PDP) insisted that the bills were aimed at strengthening the investments, business and banking climate in the country.
Similarly, the House of Representatives yesterday directed the Executive arm of government to ensure the prosecution of Senator Ovie Omo- Agege and six others who allegedly invade the Senate chambers on charges of treasonable felony .
The House also summed the senator’s action on the day , the Mace was stolen from the Senate chambers as “assault occasioning harm, conspiracy to steal and actual theft of mace, the symbol of authority of the Parliament”.
The lower chamber also commended the Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekwermadu, the press and international community for being steadfast during the period of hostility with the thugs
These resolutions were taken at plenary presided over by deputy speaker, Hon. Sulaimon Yussuff Lasun.
Considering a report of the ad hoc committee, which investigated the Senate chambers invasion, the lawmakers also approved prosecution of the Delta Senator for incitement and breach of peace in the chamber of the Senate, in addition to suspension for 180 legislative sitting days, as provided by section 14(2) of the legislative Houses (Powers and privileges) Act, 2017.
The Reps committee had explained that it was imperative to prosecute the Senator and six others for obstructing and assaulting officers of the National Assembly in the course of their duty contrary to section 14 (1) © of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act, which provides that: “any member of a legislative house who assaults or obstructs any officer of the legislative house while in the execution of his duty shall be guilty of contempt of the legislative House” and should be dealt with on accordance with the provision of the law.
It was also recommended that the preliminary investigation on the issue by the Police should be quickly concluded to allow for prosecution of the senator and his accomplice, while a new and much more secured National Assembly be made by designing a new security operational order and security architecture.
The lawmakers resolved to be henceforth more courteous and cooperate with security operatives and NASS staff.
The report had also recommended r compensation and commendation to some staff of Sergeant- at- arms for being exemplary and brave to retrieve the mace though were overpowered by the hoodlums.
Before the adoption of the report, co-chairman of the investigative panel, Hon. Betty Apiafi (Rivers) noted that the multitude of protesters at the entrance of the National Assembly help to distract the attention of the security agents which made it easier for Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and his accomplices to gain access into the premises of the National Assembly.
On that, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP,) proposed the retraining of the sergeant at Arms at the National Assembly in order to conform with what is obtainable in other security compliant Parliaments.
However, Hon. Zakari Mohammed (, Kwara) said the distraction was not an excuse as according to him a lawmaker that is suspended would not fir any reason be admitted into the premises of National Assembly by the Sergeant at Arms hence the security agents has no excuse , good enough for such security breach.