A bill seeking to prohibit frivolous petitions intended to report the conduct of any person of an investigation, inquiry of inquest without a duly sworn affidavit, passed second reading yesterday at the Senate.
Tagged “A Bill For An Act To Prohibit Frivolous Petitions And Other Matters Connected Therewith, 2015”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), received support from other lawmakers of the Red Chamber.
The bill specifically makes it punishable with “an imprisonment for a term of two years or a fine of N200,000” on conviction for acting, using or caused to be used any petition or complaint not accompanied by a dully sworn affidavit.
It also provides for mandatory six months imprisonment without an option of fine for any person who unlawfully uses, publish or cause to be published any petition, complaint not supported by a dully sworn affidavit.
Section 4 of the Bill states: “Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media, post any abusive statement knowing same to be false, with intent to set the public against any person and/or group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to an imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2 million or both such fine and imprisonment.”
Also, Section 3 of the Bill reads: “Where any person in order to circumvent this law makes any allegation and or publish any statement, petition in any paper, radio, or any medium of whatever description, with malicious intent to discredit or set the public against any person or group of persons, institutions of Government, he shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to an imprisonment term of two years or a fine of N4 million.
The bill further seeks to make it unlawful to submit any petition, statement intended to report the conduct of any person for the purpose of an investigation, inquiry and or inquest without a dully sworn affidavit in the High Court of a State or the Federal High Court confirming the content to be true and correct and in accordance with the Oaths Act.
As a result, the Bill provides that “any petition or complaint not accompanied by a sworn affidavit shall be incompetent and shall not be used by any government institution, agency or bodies established by any law for the time being enforced in Nigeria.
In his lead debate, Senator Na’Allah, reasoned that, with Freedom of Information, FoI Act in place for unfettered access to public information, it was not right “for this government to continue to waste valuable time and resources in investigating frivolous petitions from the same public”.
He further explained that the “the Bill would assist in shaping our negative thinking by elevating hard work over and above sycophancy and indolence”, adding that Nigeria has been drained of well-meaning civil servants who were shown the exit of public service on the basis of frivolous petitions, only to be replaced by the dishonest ones.
“As a nation with strong desire to move forward, this negative trend must be reversed, if only the desired objectives of the present government is to be met”, he added.
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki later referred the bill to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, for necessary legislative works and report back in four weeks.
…Frowns at high cost of houses in Abuja
Similarly, Senate yesterday frowned at the high cost of houses in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
This was just as the Senate asked all secretariats, departments and agencies in the FCT Administration to double the current internally generated revenue by June 2016.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on the FCT, Senator Dino Melaye, made the submissions on behalf of the Senate at the inaugural meeting of its Committee.
Melaye summoned the chairmen of the Area Councils to appear before the Senate next week Tuesday.
He said: “These exploitative practices by both government and construction firms have pervaded the construction industry and fuelled the high cost of construction in the FCT.
“The committee noted that construction companies handling these projects have attributed the high cost to irregular and selective payment for jobs done by the FCT Administration despite the high interest rates and other liabilities incurred by these companies.”
Senator Melaye, who said the meeting was meant to effect a change and turn a new leaf in the way government is being administered in Nigeria and also to make the FCT better, promised that the Senate would enhance beauty and status of the Territory.
According to him: “The FCT transport sector is in a serious state of disarray.
“It is embroiled with uncertainties both in the land and rail transportation sectors.
“The railway sector is being transformed gradually into a serious conduit pipe where billions of naira is being allocated annually without visible appreciable developments on ground.”
The committee, Melaye said, has noted the unparalleled growth between the supply of infrastructural facilities and the incessant influx of people into the Territory and stressed the need to dedicate over 70 per cent of the 2016 FCT budget to desired infrastructure and amenities.
He lamented that the Territory had slid into environmental embarrassment due to the heaps of garbage, overgrown bushes, erection of tenets and shanties and abandoned vehicles, among others, which he feared could be a safe place for storage of explosives.
Senator Melaye accused the FCT Administration of failing to address the problem of waste disposal, cattle rearing in the city centre and the return of commercial motorcyclists.
He also noted that the Abuja Environmental Protection Board created to secure the quality of health and well-being of the residents and maximise the impact of physical development on the ecosystem of the Territory, had been neglected over the years.