*Alleges ‘Legislative Rascality’
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, asking him to stop the Senate from further amendments to the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act.
The group, an NGO, stated that the anticipated amendment, if passed into law, would weaken the act, undermine the fight against corruption in the country, exacerbate extreme poverty and violations of internationally recognised human rights.
In the petition dated April 15, 2016 and signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP executive director, the organisation expressed “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 Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption 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.
“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 is 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. 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 argues 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.”