The bill to confer immunity on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has scaled second reading despite opposition.
The bill also seeks to confer immunity on presiding officers of the State House of Assembly to shield them from prosecution when they are occupying their offices
The bill sponsored by Segun Odebunmi was considered, yesterday and passed through second reading despite opposition from members.
The Presiding officer, Femi Gbajabimila initially expressed reservation on presiding over the debate to prevent conflict of interest.
He said the bill should be tweaked to state that the current presiding officers will not benefit from it.
He however, did not step aside as support for the bill came across party lines.
“If it’s on presiding officers, I cannot preside on this bill, there is a conflict of interest. If the bill is on subsequent presiding officers, you should put a futuristic commencement date,” he said.
Leading the debate on the bill, Odebunmi said that, “in spite of the uninterrupted concentration required for carrying out effective legislative duty, this institution has suffered serious distractions in the past.
“Either genuine or not, such distractions have had serious negative impact on quality of legislation, as well as discouraging presiding officers of the legislative institution’s at national and state levels from taking the bull by the horn or take certain critical decisions when necessary for fear of unknown.”
Sergious Ogun, in his contribution rejected the bill and called for the removal of the immunity clause preventing prosecution of the Executive.
Ogun said: “Where we are today in our democracy, many are asking that we remove the immunity of the president and governors. I don’t think we need such as a parliament. I think we need to lift the immunity of the president. If we have a judiciary that is working, there is no reason why we cannot have president or governor going to jail.”
The Minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu also opposed the bill that there are more pressing issues, such as insecurity which the House ought to pay more attention to.
Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.
With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.
The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″ according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.
The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.
” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.
“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.
” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.
He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.
In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.
The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.
By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.
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