The Nigerian senate has highlighted the priorities of the senate ahead of resumption today, after nine-weeks of recess. In a statement signed by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Media & Public Affairs, Senator (Dr.) Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate stated that it would look to prioritize the passage of the three petroleum industry bills that are at Committee stage; social justice bills like the Jungle Justice Bill; employment-related bills like the Occupational Safety Bill and the Existing Vacancies Bill.
“Over the last few weeks, legislators from the 8th Senate have been traveling around their constituencies and meeting with the stakeholders and citizens that they represent. When we resume on Tuesday, Nigerians can be rest assured that the views and voices of all Nigerians will be considered in all the Senate’s activities.
“We have several noteworthy Bills that are at various stages of consideration like the Existing Vacancies in the Federal Civil Service (Prohibition) Bill, which will help to ensure that all federal government civil service employments are properly advertised. We also have the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which will ensure that employees receive adequate legal protections in their places of work.
“Of course, we cannot forget the three Petroleum Industry Governance Bills that have been sent to the relevant committees for work. These three Bills are aimed at providing legal frameworks and other critical aspects of the petroleum industry not captured in the recently passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
“We will also consider resolutions on the next actions to take with the flooding that has occurred in several states across the nation. Through our oversight powers, we will continue to work with executives at various levels to ensure that our town planning laws are updated to mitigate against flooding and other man-made disasters.
“We have our work cut-out for us, however, working with and on behalf of all Nigerians, we will achieve all that we have set out to do.”
Also,on the front burner is expected to be the recent Proscription of the separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the deployment of military to the South East.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Petitions, Sam Anyanwu, yesterday also revealed that the alleged human rights abuses which resulted from the encounter between soldiers and members of IPOB would not be overlooked by the Upper Chamber.
He believed that the military went beyond its bounds to have meted out what he described as most inhumane treatment to the agitators.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, after declaring as unconstitutional the proscription of IPOB and tagging it a terrorist group, hinted last week that the Senate would investigate the military operation in the Southeast to identify who were involved in the alleged abuse of professionalism that had attracted so much criticism.
“I want to also make it clear that the National Assembly intends to embark on a fact-finding investigation aimed at determining what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the Southeast.
“We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We intend to lay the facts bare,” Saraki had said.
Although, The Senate President’s statement has however attracted criticism from some lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly.
House of Representatives’ Chief Whip, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, in condemning Saraki’s utterances described the Senate President’s declaration as “a mere political statement” that portrayed the nation’s Number Three citizen as “a controversial leader.”
Ado-Doguwa said, “I am sure the Senate President was only expressing his personal opinion, which I further believe was not a good one in the given circumstances. The Nigerian Armed forces in my opinion are doing their best professionally and in the best interest of a united Nigeria. Even the Southeastern state governors have declared the activities of Kanu’s IPOB as illegal and therefore proscribed. He (Senate President) can’t cry more than the bereaved.
“Considering the attacks meted out to innocent Nigerians by the IPOB group in the Southeast and indeed the nationalistic conduct of the northern governors and the prompt action they took to stop possible reprisals in the North, the Senate President’s statement was to say the least, unnecessary.”
Also, a lawmaker representing Plateau South Senatorial District, Senator Jeremiah Useni, who is a retired Lieutenant General, supported the military operation and alleged that IPOB members were terrorists.
When asked of his view on the military deployment and tagging of IPOB as terrorist group, he said, “They are terrorists. They should not criticise the military, they are terrorists; they are killing people and the government should deal with them.”