•Bill sent back for fresh consultations
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate had a rowdy session yesterday over a recommendation that the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) coordinates the fight against terrorism. The session arose over the report of the Conference Committee on the Transfer of Convicted Offenders (Enactment and Enforcement) Act CAP. T16, LFN 2004 Bill 2011 (SB 26).
The committee comprising both chambers of the National Assembly, had harmonised the bill and adopted the House of Representatives’ version which recommended the NSA’s office as the coordinating office. A new section 1 (a) was inserted after the extant section 1 of the principal Act which “deals with National Coordinating Bodies on counter terrorism offences and designates specific institutions and vest specific powers and functions, that is- the office of the National Security Adviser, the Attorney-General of the Federation and relevant law enforcement and security agencies.
The conference committee considered in details the new provision vis-a-vis other extant laws in force with regard to national security and prevention of terrorism and adopted the House version”. The plenary, however, became rowdy following a motion by the Chairman of the Rules and Business Committee, Ita Enang, on the legality of National Assembly appointing the NSA as the coordinating office. Sen. Enang said that since the “office of the NSA does not exist in law”, the National Assembly cannot make laws for the office, noting that “the National Assembly cannot dictate to the President on who should be the coordinating office. Senate President David Mark reminded his colleagues that a new debate could not be taken on the bill at that stage.
“This is a conference report; we cannot be brought here for another round of debates. We had our own version and our committee went there and they did not take our version. We cannot start a new debate. If the bill is signed into law, we can revisit it.” However, there was furore in the chamber again over whether Enang’s motion should prevail or not.
The Senate President refused to rule Enang out of order. Senators were divided following which Mark, after a quick consultation with Senate Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), asked him to move a motion for the report to be dropped, given further legislative work and re-presented on another legislative day.