BREAKING: Senate Finally Passes 2018 Budget

The Senate has passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill following the consideration and adoption of the report by the joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation.

The report was laid before the Senate on Tuesday, while the lawmakers considered and adopted it at an extended plenary on Wednesday.

The same version of the report was presented in the Senate and House of Representatives.

President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the budget of N8.612trn to the parliament for passage in November 2017; but the National Assembly raised the estimate to N9.12trn.

Details later…

IGP Reveals Why He Snubbed Senate Invite

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has disclosed that it will be undemocratic and against Senate Order 53 Rule 5 for him to appear before the Senate.

The IGP, in a letter signed by Commissioner of Police, Legal/Prosecution, David Igbodo, said he did not appear before the Senate on Wednesday due to pending cases he and Senator Dino Melaye filed before the courts.

In the letter addressed to the President of the Senate, Idris said he has high regards and respect for the National Assembly and would not do anything to derogate their powers of oversight as recognised by the Constitution or slight them in any manner.

He however said he had approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to decide whether the IGP must always appear in person each time he was invited to appear before the National Assembly despite his powers of delegation on official matters involving the police force.

He said Senator Dino Melaye has also approached the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) seeking ten reliefs challenging the action of the inspector general of police and the Nigerian Immigration Service.

“It is the belief of the Inspector General of Police that since the matter is now before a court of competent jurisdiction at both his and Senator Dino Melaye instance, the matter has become subjudicated and the court should be allowed to determine the matter,” the letter read.

“The Inspector General of Police has on the basis above directed me to inform you that he will not be available to appear before the Senate on the 9th May 2018 or any other date pending the conclusion of the cases already pending in the courts,” CP Igbodo said.

He said on 26 April when he was invited to brief the Senate, he was on official assignment with President Muhammadu Buhari to Bauchi, while on the 2nd May, the date for his second invitation, he was in Birnin-Gwari Area of Kaduna with the General Officer Commanding, One Division, Nigeria Army Kaduna.



Bill that Sought to Remove the ‘Immunity Clause’ Suspended in the Senate

The bill that attempted to eliminate the immunity against prosecution being enjoyed by the president, vice president, state governors and their deputies has been suspended in the Senate.

The bill which was sponsored by Ovie Omo-Agege (Labour Party, Delta State), sought to amend Section 308 (2) of the 1999 Constitution to allow for the prosecution of the affected leaders on matters relating to economic and financial crimes even when in office.

The bill suffered the setback because it was introduced to the Senate after the constitution review committee had submitted a report on the key amendments to be effected in the life of the Eighth National Assembly.

Members of the senate have dismissed allegations that the bill was being frustrated by state governors.

Specifically, Omo-Agege’s bill had stated that the immunity granted to the president, governors and their deputies in section 308 (1) of the constitution would no longer apply to criminal proceedings arising from allegations of financial crimes against them.

Section 308 (1) of the current constitution which gave immunity to the affected leaders reads:
“No civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;
“a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and“no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued.”

The bill had attempted to replicate the experience in the United States where the president and vice president, governors and their deputies are only immune from civil proceedings arising from their official actions while in office.

The passage of the bill into law was expected to ensure and increase accountability in public office, especially as regards the president, his deputy and governors and their deputies.

If the bill successfully passes at the senate, it is subject to approval to atleast 24 out of the 36 house of assemblies in the nation.

While, the ‘immunity clause removal’ bill has suffered a set back, the Ekweremadu-led constitution review committee have hinted that the ongoing amendment will seek to deliver ‘true federalism’, which has been a nagging issue in the country.