Following a running battle with the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Senate on Thursday made good its threat to cut the court to size as they passed a bill amending the Code of Conduct and Tribunal Act, and in the process transferred the controlling powers over the bureau and the tribunal from the President to the National Assembly.The House of Representatives had passed the amendment bill in May 2016 and sent it to the Senate for ratification.
According to the amendment, the CCT going forward, shall be made up of the chairman and four other members.The court will need a minimum of three members to form a quorum.
Whereas the President will have the power to appoint members of the court, the appointment of the chairman and members of the bureau and the tribunal will however, be subject to Senate’s approval, with the appointment of those in the bureau limited to a tenure of five years, while the second term will be subject to legislative approval, if the amendment is passed into law.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, while submitting the report of the committee that harmonised the bill with the earlier one passed by the lower house admitted that the bill generated political tension in the country hence the decision to suspend the initial process.
Part of their report stated, “The bill originated from the House of Representatives. After passage, it was sent to the Senate for concurrence and was read the first time in the Senate on October 5, 2016. You would probably recall also that on April 14, 2016, a similar bill was initiated in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions but the political situation of that time was not conducive for continued processing of the bill, and was subsequently suspended.”
The amendment, the report continued, include “altering the tenure of the Office of the Chairman and members of the bureau; amending the entry age of the chairman and members of the bureau; relocating the power to exercise authority over the bureau from Mr. President to the National Assembly; extending (the) power of the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute to private legal practitioners to enable the bureau prosecute its cases; and making certain provisions clearer and more elaborate.
”According to report, the bill seeks to amend the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap. C15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2014.