National Assembly Adjourns For Two Weeks Over Coronavirus

 

The National Assembly has adjourned plenary in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers for two weeks.

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who announced this on Tuesday said the lawmakers would resume plenary on April 7.

This followed a resolution reached by members of the Upper Chamber during a closed session which lasted about 40 minutes.

Giving details into what transpired during the closed-door session, Lawan said lawmakers unanimously agreed that the National Assembly should adjourn plenary for a period of two weeks.

He explained that the decision was due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has led to most countries shutting down activities, in order to curtail the spread of the disease.

The Senate President, however, disclosed that the Senate would reconvene to attend to matters of national importance which require urgent legislative intervention within the period of the recess.

He said, “The Senate, in particular and the National Assembly in general, further resolved to adjourn sitting for two weeks from today, due to the pandemic of coronavirus ravaging the entire world, and therefore, the Senate resumes on the 7th of April.

“However, the Senate will be on hand in case of emergency in any national issue that requires its attention.”

The Senate President advised Nigerians to observe all preventive measures recommended by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He called on the Federal Government to immediately set aside a Special Intervention Fund to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country and release financial assistance to states for the same purpose.

“As at now, the only way out of the pandemic is for the population to observe recommended measures and advice by the National Centre or Disease Control (NCDC),” the lawmaker said.

He added, “The Federal Government should devote special funds to fight the COVID-19 virus threatening Nigeria.

“The Senate Committee on Health and Private Healthcare and Communicable diseases will continue to engage the Federal Ministry of Health and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.”

Coronavirus: Summon President Buhari Now, Ezekwesili Urges NASS

Former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili.

 

Former Presidential candidate in the 2019 General Elections, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has urged the leadership of the National Assembly to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to address the lawmakers and the Nigerian public on his administration’s strategies and account of efforts at containing the Coronavirus pandemic and the global economic shock.

In a press statement made available to journalists, on Friday, through her Spokesperson and Publicist, Mr. Ozioma Ubabukoh, she stated that “at a time Nigeria is at war against a rapidly escalating pandemic of Coronavirus and an increasingly distressed, deteriorating and declining economy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Buhari, is missing in action.”

READ ALSO: Reps Effect Withdrawal Of Sack Threat To FCT Doctors

While posing questions about President Buhari’s whereabouts, Ezekwesili, who is also a Co-convener of Bring Back Our Girls, declared, “Fellow Citizens, it is grossly irresponsible of Nigeria resident, General Muhammadu Buhari, to hide away from addressing and assuring his citizens at a time like this when leaders of other nations are doing much more.”

The former Education minister maintained that “it is grossly incompetent of the President that he moves around ‘Majoring in the Minors of declaring events open’, while his citizens are panicked about the fast accelerating health and economic crises.”

She added, “As a citizen of this country, I demand that the National Assembly, the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives, must in the exercise of their oversight role, immediately invite President Buhari to render account and plans of his stewardship on the pandemic and economic wars the country is thrown into. Do this NOW.”

Ezekwesili said the National Assembly must act swiftly to wake up the Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria to provide the Constitutional leadership he swore to provide, especially when the country faces any kind of war.

She said, “NASS must quickly avert any repeat of President Buhari’s lax counter-terrorism war that has cost the country too many lives. A contagion from deadly #CoronaVirus must be avoided immediately. NOW! Nigeria simply cannot afford the implications of an exponential increase in the number of citizens infected by #CoronaVirus. It is insensitive of the President to be mute at a time like this.

“That @followlasg published that it is already contact-tracing 1,300 Nigerians in one way or the other linked to confirm cases of the disease should worry us.

“Let President Buhari come out of his self-isolation and lead his country and people to win these wars. The economic impact of the health crisis will be severe on our majority’s extremely poor of more than 93 million. President Buhari must be reminded that leadership is not about personal comfort.”

Ezekwesili, who is a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, noted that Nigeria needed nothing less than “ evident effective leadership now.”

Lawan, Gbajabiamila Commiserate With Victims Of Abule-Ado Explosion

 

Leaders of the National Assembly have commiserated with victims of the pipeline explosion that rocked Abule-Ado area of Lagos on Sunday.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in separate statements, called on the relevant authorities to get to the root of the incident, with a view to forestalling a reoccurrence.

My heart goes out to the people of Abule Ado, especially the victims of the explosion, in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area. I also sympathise with the people and Government of Lagos State over the incident

May I call on all the agencies of government to do diligent work to ascertain the cause of the explosion to avert a reoccurrence, Gbajabiamila said.

READ ALSO: Those Who Have Hand In Abule-Ado Blast Must Be Punished – Tinubu

Similarly, Lawan condoled with all those who lost loved ones in the incident, while urging the state government to get to the root of the incident.

The blast which was caused by human error and aggravated by gas cylinders led to the death of at least 17 people and about 25 injured.

Properties worth millions of Naira were not spared as the blast destroyed belongings of people in an area where petroleum pipelines pass through.

The NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, has also called on Lagosians to stay away from the Right of Way of the Corporation.

NCDC DG Reacts To Reps Two Weeks Planned Recess Over COVID-19

 

The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, has asked the House of Representatives not to suspend plenary over coronavirus.

Lawmakers on Tuesday, passed a resolution to suspend plenary for two weeks to enable the management of the National Assembly, put measures in place against the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The NCDC boss stressed that the time hasn’t come for such because it will create panic amongst Nigerians.

Dr Ihekweazu who was on Channels Television Sunrise Daily urged the lawmakers to support the efforts of experts by providing a budget that is sustainable in curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“I have a lot of respect for the honourable members of the House of Representatives, but I think the time now hasn’t come, if they respond in a way like that by suspending session, everyone else will ask if they should close their businesses, office or schools and it is disproportionate at this time.

“They should support the work experts are doing; give us a sustainable budget so that we can develop the expertise.”

READ ALSO: Why Reps May Suspend Plenary For Two Weeks Over Coronavirus – Spokesman

The NCDC boss asked the lawmakers to show confidence in the government institutions that they have set up by providing support for the work being done.

“It’s too early to carry out a measure like that; they need to express by their actions and their words, confidence in the government institutions that they have set up and their mandate is to fund.

“I understand they are expressing the anxieties of Nigerians, but they should please support the works we are doing both in the short and long-term.”

Dr IhekweazuM while responding to a question on cures for the diseases said: “Cures are found through collective scientific effort and not from my mother’s pot in the village.”

Reps To Suspend Plenary For Two Weeks Over Coronavirus

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The House of Representatives has passed a resolution to suspend plenary for two weeks to enable the management of the National Assembly, put measures in place against the spread of coronavirus in the country.

This was part of the resolution of the house, following a motion of urgent public importance by representative Uyime Idem, and seconded by Ndudi Elumelu, on the need for immediate action to prevent any new cases of the virus.

Rep Uyime called on the Federal Government to release more funds to the Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in order to quarantine, treat, and contain the COVID-19 situation.

READ ALSO: Village Head, One Other Killed In Zamfara Attack

The lawmaker added that the situation is so dire globally that 3,000 people have died and over 90,000 are infected with the virus.

He called on the leadership of NASS to set up an ad-hoc committee to liaise with relevant health agencies to ensure the virus is contained.

Also, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu called on NASS management to put mechanisms in place to ensure the virus doesn’t find a place in the National Assembly.

No date for the suspension has been set yet.

Buhari Inaugurates New Members Of NASS Service Commission

Photo: Sunday Aghaeze

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated Ahmed Kadi Amshi and 11 others as Chairman and commissioners of the National Assembly Service Commission.

Engr Amshi and 11 commissioners took their oaths of office at the statehouse council chamber in Abuja which was presided over by President Buhari.

The commissioners are; Honourable Babagana Modu, Senator Abubakar Tutare, Hakeem Akamo, Motunrayo Akintomide, Francis Atanomeyovwi, Mr Bassey Olusegun Etuk, Honourable Yusuf Shinkafi Bilyaminu, Sani Said Kazaure, Senator Julius Ali Ucha, Auwalu Aliyu Ohindase and Alh Mu’Azu Is’hao.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

READ ALSO: Bill Seeking Immunity For Lawmakers From Prosecution Scales Second Reading

President Buhari had in December 2019, forwarded the names of the Chairman, Ahmed Kadi Amshi, and 11 commissioners to the National Assembly for confirmation.

The National Assembly Service Commission is saddled with the responsibility of managing the workforce of the National Assembly.

The ceremony kicked off at around 10:00 am, preceding the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which started at around 11 am.

See photos of the inauguration below:

Abacha Loot: PDP Asks National Assembly To Probe Buhari Administration

Buhari Rejects Ajaokuta Steel Company Bill, Seven Others

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the National Assembly to save the nation by immediately undertaking a forensic probe of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

This comes against the backdrop of reports in which the United States Department of Justice alleged that the Nigerian government plans to hand over about $100m out of the money looted by late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.

In a statement on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP decried the alleged huge corruption in the Presidency.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Govt Denies Planning To Pay Bagudu $100m From Abacha Loot

It claimed that the recent revelation has further exposed that the government has been living a lie – parading as saints with false anti-corruption posturing.

According to the main opposition party, the Presidency has been swimming in “a huge ocean of corruption and massive treasury looting”.

The statement said, “PDP’s call is predicated on the stinking reports by the US Department of State that the President Buhari-led Government plots to funnel the repatriated money to certain individuals connected to the Presidency, including a particular state governor allegedly involved in the initial looting of the money.

“The PDP says the report that the Buhari-led government has been blocking attempts to recover part of the looted funds traced to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, the Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors Forum, who was reportedly indicted by the US for allegedly helping in transferring billions of dollar out of the country during the military era, speaks volumes of the corruption and concealments going on in the Buhari Presidency.

“Moreover, further revelations in the report that instead of recovering the stolen money, the Federal Government is even in the process of funnelling $100 million (N36.3 billion) out of the looted funds to Governor Bagudu, highlights the humongous sleaze, duplicity, and treachery that pervade the Buhari administration.

“From the report, it is clear that the Buhari Presidency has further smeared itself, and no longer commands the trust and confidence of stakeholders within and outside the country in its fight against corruption.

“There are already apprehensions in the public space of huge complicity and patronising of corruption under President Buhari’s watch, which is directly responsible for our worsening corruption rating, a comatose economy, hardship, and untold suffering which have turned our nation into world’s poverty capital.”

The PDP, therefore, called on the National Assembly to redeem the image of the country by invoking its statutory instruments to order a forensic investigation into the handling of repatriated funds.

Senate President Raises Security Threat Alarm At National Assembly

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has asked the security agencies to beef up the security measures at the National Assembly to avert any threat.

Speaking during an emergency meeting with top security officials on Tuesday in Abuja, Lawan disclosed that he has received a report of security threat to the National Assembly.

“Personally, I had a report from the DSS that we had a security threat. Many unknown and uninvited people came or are coming into the National Assembly complex and we felt we shouldn’t take this lightly,” he said at the meeting.

The Senate President added, “From today, we have to find a temporary solution to support the security arrangement here. We will find a more permanent solution by the time the entire environment is remodelled.”

In attendance were the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, and representatives of the Defence, Police, Civil Defence, Fire Service, and other security agencies.

 

Lawan stressed that the responsibility for ensuring security for all Nigerians was a collective for both the legislative and executive arms of government.

He noted that the lawmakers were working hard and round the clock, saying they have an active ad-hoc committee that was already engaging the security agencies.

“As principal officers of the National Assembly, or let me say in the Senate in this respect, our responsibility and obligation is to ensure that our senators, members of the House of Representatives, workers of the National Assembly, our visitors and indeed anyone who has a lawful business to do in this National Assembly are safe.

“For a very long time, this National Assembly will always have people who have no business coming here,” he said.

The Senate President added, “With the heightening insecurity in the country, the time has come for this National Assembly to be properly secured for members of the National Assembly to carry out their legislative and other functions, under a very safe atmosphere and of course, our workers, our visitors.”

“What that means is that, if someone has no business here, that person shouldn’t be in the National Assembly. Because we are a parliament, we are a place or an institution where our constituents who feel very strongly about any issue can come and express their opinions.

“Some will come for protests. Some will attend public hearings in the committee rooms. Some will visit the gallery or in some cases even enter the chamber when allowed to do so.

“And when you take security for granted, sometimes you may have a bitter experience. We don’t want to take for granted the safe corridor that we have had. At least nothing has happened.

“We don’t want to wait until something happened. This kind of discussions had taken place in the past. This is the Ninth Senate, we want to do it differently.”

Lawan said plans were underway for a better and permanent security architecture for the National Assembly.

He, however, clarified that nobody was advocating a blanket ban on the people with genuine reasons for visiting the National Assembly.

The Senate President also warned that any security officials found wanting in the line of duty would not be spared.

National Assembly Will No Longer Tolerate Killing Of Nigerians, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has said that the leadership of the National Assembly will no longer tolerate the unnecessary killing of Nigerians.

Presiding over Thursday’s plenary in the Senate, Lawan decried that the security of the country was being threatened by criminals.

He, therefore, demanded a complete restructuring of the security architecture of the Nigeria Police Force, as well as equipping police training institutions and training of men and officers of the Force.

 

A Sinking Fund

The Senate President stated this in his concluding remarks on a Bill for an Act to Repeal the Police Act and enact the Nigeria Police Bill, 2019 to provide for a framework for the Police Service.

He said, “We are in a very unusual time. When Nigeria was at war at one stage, there was a very rigorous recruitment of soldiers because the situation demanded that.

“I think we are in a similar situation and it is only fair for us as leaders of this country to take this challenge.”

“This bill should consider the restructuring of the command and structure of the Police. The present structure is not working, the Police Trust Fund is already accruing, the last count I was told there was about N52 billion or so, but it is not about throwing money to the Police.

“You need to adjust the structure, otherwise that money will just be a sinking fund,” he added.

 

The Right Side Of History

The Senate President stressed that the need for the government to be in a hurry to recruit, train and retrain security personnel.

According to him, equipping the police training institutions is supposed to be one vital aspect of getting the security arrangements right.

Lawan believed this must be done in a hurry, even if it means going for a supplementary budget.

“The kind of situation we are in, with the lives that are lost on a daily basis, is something we cannot tolerate, and in fact, we should be on the right side of history,” he stated.

The Senate President made the remarks after a debate on the bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs. Senator Haliru Jika.

In his lead debate, Senator Jika explained that the piece of legislation sought primarily to provide for the framework for the Police Service.

He said it was also aimed at ensuring cooperation and partnership between the police and communities in order to maintain peace and combat crime and insecurity in the country.

National Assembly Resumes Plenary After Recess

A file photo of the National Assembly complex in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

 

The National Assembly complex in Abuja witnessed the presence of members of the Senate and House of Representatives following their resumption from recess.

The lawmakers arrived in scanty numbers on Tuesday at their respective legislative chambers after the break which lasted almost six weeks.

At the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, led the principal officers into the legislative house and took the official prayers.

The day’s proceedings began thereafter while the Senate moved into an Executive Session at about 10:34am.

Some lawmakers were also present at the House of Representatives chamber where the same process took place.

The lawmakers had adjourned until today during the plenary of December 20, 2019.

Court Restrains INEC Over Ifeanyi Ubah Senate Sack

A file photo of Senator Ifeanyi Ubah.

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from implementing two previous judgements of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja given against Ifeanyi Ubah.

Mr. Ubah of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) is seeking to retain his seat in the Senate.

READ ALSO: Court Reaffirms Sack Of Ifeanyi Ubah As Senator

On April 11, 2019, Justice Bello Kawu of the FCT High Court in Kubwa, had sacked Ubah, the Senator representing Anambra South. The judge reaffirmed his ruling on January 17, 2020 and ordered that Mr. Obinna Uzoh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be recognised as the winner of the election.

However, on Thursday, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, in a suit filed by Ubah, stopped INEC from issuing a Certificate of Return to Uzor.

The Judge noted that the Court of Appeal had already affirmed Ubah’s election on September 9, 2019, and October 29, 2019.

He also noted that the Court of Appeal was the highest court on issues pertaining to National Assembly election appeals.

Rep Members Reject Renovation Of National Assembly With N37bn

 

Reactions have continued to trail the proposed N37 billion meant for the renovation of the National Assembly.

This time, some members of the House of Representatives, through a series of tweets rejected the amount earmarked to embark on the project.

In their tweets, three lawmakers – Bamidele Salam, Akin Alabi, and Legor Idagbo – shared the opinion that the National Assembly does not need to spend as much as N37 billion for renovation.

According to them, only an upgrade in the audio and recording system of the chambers is needed and not the entire structure.

The lawmakers, however, proposed that instead of spending such an amount on the project, the money should be channeled into the upgrade of schools and hospitals across the country.

Read the tweets below: