OrderPaperToday – The House of Representatives has made progress on a bill that seeks to reduce the powers of the President in the exercise of a state of emergency in the country.
The bill sponsored by Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), seeks to repeal the Emergency Powers Act of 1961 and reenact it to fit modern-day realities. It passed through second reading after some opposition to the bill.
It is worthy of note that a similar bill was sponsored in the 8th Senate by Sen John Owan Enoh from Cross River State.
Leading the debate, Monguno said that the existing act is obsolete and needs to be repealed and replaced with another that is up to date.
“The emergency bill of 1961 has become obsolete, there is need to repeal the act, and reenact this new bill so that the bill can achieve the objective in tandem with the new reality.”
“Laws are not supposed to be static, but organic, it should change to the tide, the 1961 act is not as elaborate as now, the world is changing. In 1961 the country was not having things like boko haram, kidnappers as we are having, and other security challenges.
“This bill seeks to ensure that the act is in tandem with modern realities; this will confer powers on the National Assembly; for the executive to go to the National Assembly for approval because absolute power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
“Once you give an arm of government absolute power, there is tendency for abuse, under this act, the executive will need approval. Once an emergency is more than one month, there will be a need for the executive to seek for approval of the National Assembly.”
Objecting to the bill, Uzoma Abonta (PDP, Abia) noted that the sponsor did not state the ills it intends to cure, adding that emergency powers are at the core of the constitution.
However, the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that the bill will repeal the existing bill and as such, need not answer the query raised by Abonta.
When the bill was put to vote by the speaker, the ‘ayes’ had it and was consequently referred to the committee on judiciary for further legislative action.