The upper legislative chamber, The Nigerian Senate yesterday, in 10 minutes suspended its Standing Rule and passed 46 bills which had been pending before it for four years.

It equally announced it would at its sitting today, take a decision on the controversy that greeted the refusal by former President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the amendments made in the constitution.

The senators also imposed life imprisonment as sanction for rapists and other sex offenders in a new law tagged Sexual Offences Act which was passed yesterday.

The decision to adopt the 46 bills was sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang who called on the Red Chamber to invoke Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Order to adopt a Special Procedure on the bills.

He explained that the bills had earlier been passed by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence, noting that by “mutual consent and legislative reciprocates, the House of Representatives is adopting same special procedure and passing such bills passed by the Senate and transmitted to her for concurrence.”

He, therefore, called for the suspension of Order 79 (1) of the Senate Standing Orders and deemed all the bills as having passed their First, Second and Third Readings. This led to a rowdy session as senators who objected to the procedure being used in passing the bills, protested.

Before putting the motion to voice vote, Senate President, David Mark expressed reservations about the process, saying: “My main problem is that we should be able to read through the bills and know what they are saying.” Although the motion was approved by voice vote, protests still continued.

Mark, in his efforts to douse the tension generated by the situation, appealed to his colleagues to adhere to the rules.

He declared that those opposed to the passage should present a substantive motion today when the votes and proceedings would be considered and passed. “I have ruled. If you disagree, come back with a substantive motion tomorrow,” he stated.

The bills passed are: “Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment) Act Amendment Bill, Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill, Institute of Chartered Trustees of Nigeria Bill, National Convict and Criminal Records Bill, Community Service Bill, People’s Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry Act (Repeal) Bill, Federal Saving Bank Act (Repeal) Bill.


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