Lagos-based constitutional lawyer and Human rights lawyer, Chief. Femi Falana (SAN), has urged the House of Representatives not to lend its support to the ongoing process of amending the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act in the Senate.
In his letter dated April 15, 2016, addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, Falana described the proposed amendment by the upper legislative chamber as illegal and self serving.
The letter titled, ‘Re: Proposed Amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Tribunal Act by the National Assembly’, was copied the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Falana said going by the nature of the CCB/T Act which is a duplication of provisions of the Constitution, the amendment could not be valid without amending the Constitution.
He said in the letter to Dogara, a copy of which was made available to Nigerian Pilot yesterday, that the ongoing process at the Senate was in violation of section 4(2) of the Constitution.
He said the constitutional provision only empowered the National Assembly to make laws “for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof.”
Saraki is currently being prosecuted before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on various alleged infractions, including false assets declaration,which are criminalised by the law being sought to be amended by the Senate.
But Falana explained that going by the constitutional provision prohibiting the enactment of any law with retroactive effect, the Senate ought to know that the amendment would have no effect on Saraki’s trial.
He said, “In the light of the authoritative pronouncement of the Supreme Court on lack of legislative powers on the part of the National Assembly to enact laws which have similar provisions to those of the Constitution, section 3 of the Act hasbecome a duplication of the relevant constitutional provision.
“Consequently, its proposed amendment is illegal and unconstitutional. In other
words, without amending the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the proposed amendment of the Act is an exercise in futility.
“As the proposed amendment cannot alter, enlarge or curtail the relevant provisions of the Constitution the Senate ought not to continue to waste precious time and resources on the illegal exercise.
“Since the Constitution has prohibited the enactment of ex post facto laws in circumstances of this nature, the National Assembly ought to know that the ongoing moves to amend the Act cannot have any effect on the celebrated trial of the Senate President.
“Having solemnly sworn to strive to preserve the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy contained in the Constitution, the members of the National Assembly should stop subverting the obligation of the Federal Government to ‘abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.’
“In view of the foregoing, we are compelled to urge the House of Representatives ably led by your good self not to lend its weight to the illegal amendment of the Act.”
Falana recalled that, though, the House of Representatives had yet to commence
deliberations on the Bill for the amendment of the Act, the Senate passed it for the second reading last week, barely 48 hours after its presentation by its sponsor, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.
He urged the House of Representatives to persuade the Senate to terminate further proceedings on the bill, predicting that it (the bill) would be caught by the same fate which befell the amendment of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000 in 2003.
Falana said, “You may wish to remind your colleagues in the House that when the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000 was amended in 2003 on account of the investigation of allegations of corrupt practices involving the leadership of the Senate, the Federal High Court set aside the amendment as it violated the Constitution.
“As the same fate certainly awaits the Bill to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, it is hoped that the House will persuade the Senate to terminate further debates on it.”

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