- The Nigerian Senate has taken a decision on the four bills withheld by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo
- The Senate said it will consult with its legal team on the acting president's decision
- Osinbajo had earlier rejected four bills assented by the Senate
The Nigerian Senate has taken a decision against Acting President Yemi Osinbajo's action on four bills passed by the National Assembly.
The Senate said it will consult with its legal team on the acting president's decision.
On Wednesday, February 22, the acting president rejected four bills passed by the lawmakers.
The bills - Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Bill 2016, National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2016, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016, and the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill 2016 - Osinbajo said were withheld in Pursuant to Section 58 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
He said his reason for withholding the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016 is due to concerns surrounding board composition, funding arrangements, limitation of liability of funds, and proposals to increase levels of un-collaterised loans from N5,000 to N250,000.
The acting president said the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill 2016 was withheld due to modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture while Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Bill 2016 was held for certain words and phrases utilized in the draft bill that may be inconsistent with the Principal Act (for example, Section 6 of the bill with Section 21 of the Principal Act) and the spirit behind the proposed amendments.
For the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill 2016 Osinbajo said: “the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.”
Following the decision of the acting president, Senator Dino Melaye who sponsored the national Lottery bill dismissed Osinbajo's reasons.
Melaye raising a point of order said the court processes and the decision of the acting president is against the principle of separation of powers.
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But responding to Melaye's argument, the Senate President Bukola Saraki said the National Assembly will seek legal advise on the matter.
He said: "I think the procedure is that we will refer this (issue) to our legal department to give us advice on interpretation on some of the things that you have said, for us to be properly guided. But, I agree with you that it is a matter that we must take seriously because it goes down to the issue of separation of powers. We would get the opinion of the legal department.”
Also reacting, Senator George Sekibo noted that the National Assembly had the powers to override the veto of the president.
Sekibo said the constitution is framed in a manner that while the executive has it own roles to play, the legislature also have theirs.
"We check each other. I know that the matter is in court and based on our rules, we cannot discuss it; it is a different thing," Sekibo said.
"But if it is just that the President did not give assent, we have to look at the merit of the particular bill if it meets the standards and if the court matter is not going to impede what we are going to do. Then, we can override the veto of the President," he said.
But Saraki insisted that the issue be referred to the legal department for further interpretation and counsel.