OrderPaperToday – The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill is now set to be transmitted to the Presidency after suffering setback due to some fundamental issues’ identified by the legal department of the National Assembly.
Last week, the Senate Leader sought that that the bill be referred to conference committee for further deliberations.
The report was presented by the Chairman, Sen. Tayo Alasoadura (APC, Ondo) on Wednesday, who indicated the changes made in some clauses of the bill.
Alasoadura said: “What legal services directorate proposed: Clause 18 of the bill establishes the board for the commission and there is no provision for the secretary of the board. Proposed that there should be provision for secretary of the board.
“The committee recommendation: There would be secretary for the commission who shall also serve as the non-member of the board while rejecting the request for creating a secretary for the board of the commission.
“The board shall appoint its secretary who shall serve the legal matters, shall not be a member of the board, shall keep the records, issuing notices of meetings, conduct the correspondences of the board and perform such other duties as the Chairman or Chief Executive Commissioner may from time to time direct.”
In Clause 17(1e) and 47(1d) the legal services directorate proposed that the phrase “serious misconduct” is used but it is not defined anywhere in the bill.
The committee however retained the provisions, clarifying that the term “serious misconduct” is used in legislative draft and humongous legal phrase “to encompass all manners of grave misconduct whose particulars, fact or faults cannot be covered by any specific definition. Therefore, we would be doing more than good to define it.”
Senator Tayo continued:”What Legal services directorate proposed: Clause 33 (1) and 63 (1) of the bill are in conflict with the provisions of section 20 and 44 of the Sheriff and Process Act Laws of the federation.
“The clauses are proposed because the court cannot levy execution process either by attaching the physical property of the commission or national petroleum company unless a three months’ notice is given. However, if this is permitted the power and independence of the judiciary is seriously undermined.
“Committee recommendation: the committee retains the provision of the bill and the rational for this is that the clauses merely state that the public access of the commission cannot be attached in any judgement execution. It is a general rule of law globally that you cannot attach a lien on a public property, the philosophy being that for the protection of the public good, one person alone cannot purport to own an asset belonging to the entire public by reason of a judgment; he should rather derive his judgment from the earnings or monies due to the public institution. The clauses seek to exclude the jurisdiction of the court to review on a particular matter.”
Clause 95 (2) of the bill as identified by legal services directorate stated that the article of association of the management company prepared by the minister state states the composition of the board without a secretary which conflicts with section 2 (93) Allied matters act which requires that every company shall have a secretary.
The committee stated that it would retain the provisions in the bill because the National Asset Management Company is to be incorporated in line with the provisions of the company and allied maters act.
“The act provides for the appointment of a secretary for which necessary procedures are contained in the act. It is therefore unnecessary for it to provide further requirement for what has already been covered at the relevant extant law.”
Another clause highlighted by legal services directorate is Clause 102 of the bill.
It proposed that the national petroleum company cannot be subjected to the provisions for the fiscal responsibility act 2007 and public procurement act 2007. The implication of this provision is that the National Petroleum Company shall neither be subjected to accountability and transparency required under the fiscal responsibility act nor the due process in public procurement act.
The committee again maintained that “the exclusion for the operation of the Nigerian Petroleum Company from these Acts is designed to insulate the company from the bureaucratic act to which most government owned companies and agencies are subject. The concept or ideology behind the company must be recalled which is to create a private company entity which can effectively compete in a competitive market.”
The report was approved after it was put to a voice vote.
It would be recalled that the harmonized version of the bill was passed by the National Assembly in March 2018.