CCT Amendment Bill: SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over ‘Legislative Rascality
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Prof. Philip Alston, asking him to urgently request Nigeia’s National Assembly specifically the Senate, to withdraw amendments to the Code of Conduct Bureau(CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act.
The body argued that if passed into law would seriously weaken the act, undermine the fight against corruption in the country, exacerbate extreme poverty and violations of internationally recognised human rights.
SERAP stated this in a petition dated April 15, 2016 and signed by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni.
The organisation expressed “serious concern that the Senate of Nigeria will any moment from now pass amendments to Public Officers Protection Act; Administration of Criminal Justice Act; Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act with the political objective of securing a soft-landing for the Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is facing corruption charges”.
The petition copied to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption, Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein reads in part, “SERAP considers these amendments to be in bad faith, patently an abuse of legislative powers, politically biased and demonstrably unjustified in a democratic and representative society governed by the rule of law and incompatible with the country’s international human rights obligations and commitments particularly the UN Convention against Corruption, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria has ratified.”
It continued, “SERAP also considers the amendments to amount to “legislative rascality”, as they are not legitimate exercise of legislative power, and if allowed can exacerbate extreme poverty and violations of the right to an adequate standard of living of Nigerians and other human rights. The amendments also threaten the injunction that government must be accountable, responsive and open; that public institutions must not only be held to account but must also be governed by high standards of ethics, efficiency and must use public resources in an effective manner”.
SERAP stated that it was concerned that while deserving bills have been left to languish at the bottom of their legislative programmes, the Nigerian Senate has fast-tracked the passing of these obnoxious amendments, adding that the drafters of the constitution would not have foreseen that the Senate would use its legislative power to encourage corruption and to undermine rather than advance constitutional guarantees and principles.
SERAP further argued that limitations to the legislative powers of the Senate can be implied not only from the chapters two and four of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) relating to the obligations of all organs of government to promote transparency, accountability and combat corruption and recognition of citizens’ fundamental human rights but also by voluntary acceptance of international human rights obligations by Nigeria.
The body posited that a good government is one that rules according to the law, not according to the whims or caprice of parliamentarians, noting that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) grants legislative power to the Senate to “make laws for the peace, order and good government.
This power, it stated implies that the National Assembly including the Senate will serve as a crucial bastion of transparency, accountability and the rule of law that are necessary to reduce poverty, establish a corruption-free society, and effective enjoyment of human rights.
According to SERAP, “Rather than be inspired by the spirit of public service by initiating legislation that promotes transparency, accountability and human rights, the Senate is legislating to encourage corruption and impunity, serving as both a shield and sword to advance personal agendas. SERAP argues that the state’s obligation to respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights inevitably creates a duty to develop effective anti-corruption legislation and not to promote corruption and impunity of perpetrators. SERAP notes that the Senate does not enjoy unfettered, unconditional and absolute legislative powers and should therefore not be allowed to create or change laws on a virtually unrestricted basis.”
According to the constitution, all power and authority of Government and its organs is derived from the Constitution. Nigeria also is obligated to observe international human rights obligations in good faith and to take appropriate measures including through legislation to promote, protect and fulfil human rights. The law-making powers which are vested in the National Assembly including the Senate by Section 4 of the constitution are therefore to be exercised in accordance with the constitution and international obligations.”