Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Controversy Stalls Passage of Anti-Terrorism Bill in Nigerian Senate

Controversy stalls passage of anti-terrorism bill in Senate

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 00:00 From John-Abba Ogbodo and Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Abuja News - National
Nigerian Guardian

• Senators, Maina in cat and mouse game

• Reps seek sanctions for Demuren, Dana

CONTROVERSY over some constitutional matters yesterday stalled the passage of the Terrorism Amendment Bill in the Senate.

Also, the Head of the Pensions Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, again failed to appear before the Senate Joint Committee on Establishments and State and Local Council Affairs over alleged misapplication of funds.

The controversy arose in the course of consideration of the report of the harmonisation committee of both Senate and the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday sought the immediate dismissal and prosecution of the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, over alleged negligence of duty, which it said played serious roles in the June 3, 2012 Dana Air crash, which claimed 163 lives.

Adopting the report of its Aviation committee, which investigated the matter, the House also took the following resolutions:

“• that Dana current Air Operating Certificate (AOC) should be revoked because it was not issued in compliance with Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Civil Regulations Guideline 2009;

• that NCAA inspector, Suleiman Akwuh, an engineer who did pre-arrival inspection on the ill-fated Dana Aircraft without pre­requisite professional qualification should be dismissed from service. The Director-General who approved and deployed the officer should be dismissed and prosecuted for criminal negligence.

Senator Ita Enag (Akwa Ibom North East), citing section 151 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), said the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), according to the harmonised version of the bill, was to coordinate all security and enforcement agencies under the bill but the office is not among the ones listed in the constitution. He further argued that President Goodluck Jonathan had sought and got the approval of the Senate to appoint 20 aides and the NSA was not among those approved.

He concluded that allowing the bill to pass in that manner would amount to a breach of the constitution.

However, some senators contended that the bill could be passed as harmonised but others vehemently opposed the passage. When Senate President David Mark put the question to vote, it was unclear which side of the divide had the upper hand. He, therefore, advised further consultation on the bill.

Meanwhile, the Senate Joint Committee on Establishment and State and Local Council Affairs investigating alleged abuse of pensions fund yesterday said it would no longer invite Maina because he had allegedly shown disrespect for the panel.

Its chairman, Aloysius Etuk, announced this Wednesday after the committee had waited in vain for Maina to appear before it.

After Maina’s failure to appear before the committee some weeks ago, it issued a warrant compelling the Inspector General to bring him Wednesday.

But yesterday, Etuk said he had been told that Maina was at the entrance to the National Assembly addressing his supporters.

Addressing officers from the Customs, Immigration, Prisons Pension Office, Etuk said: “We’ve been sitting and adjourning for the sake of making sure that he is here so that we can give him fair hearing because in the other pension areas he said he didn’t have fair hearing…

“So the committee will know what to do. Nigerians are watching, we are open and sincere; we wanted this on record; God knows we have tried.”

However, Maina said he was ready to appear before the committee yesterday but on his way to the National Assembly, pensioners blocked the entrance and he had to trek but on his way to the complex, he was told that the committee had risen and concluded that he ignored the invitation.

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