Monday, September 28, 2020

39 CSOs allege abandonment of NASS oversight functions and other activities

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By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Civil society organizations, CSOs, numbering 39, on Sunday, allegedly dropped in the oversight functions of the National Assembly and other legislative activities from June 2019 to July 2020.

This was contained in a joint statement signed by CSO leaders, including the Center for Democracy and Development, CDD, Center for Democratic Research and Training, CRDDERT, Center for Legislative Defense of Civil Society, CISLAC, Accountability Project. and Socioeconomic Law, SERAP, Media Rights Agenda, MRA, Center for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, Zero-Corruption Coalition, ZCC, Newborn Maternal Responsibility and Child Health in Nigeria, AMHiN, Partners for Electoral Reform , Center for Policy and Legal Defense, PLAC.

Others are African Center for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, National Procurement Watch Platform, Say NO Campaign – Nigeria, Resource Center for Human Rights and Civil Education, CHRICED, Social Action, Community Action for Popular Participation, Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress, BOCODEP, Global Rights, Alliance for Credible Elections, ACE.

Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, YIAGA, Governance and Tax Justice Platform, Action for Environmental Rights / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Women in Nigeria, African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development, LSD Center, Advocacy for the Rule of Law and Responsibility Center, RULAAC, Women’s Advocates Research and Documentation Center, Community Life Project, Nigerian Feminist Forum, Alliances for Africa, Spaces for Change, Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, Corporate Responsibility and Africa Public Participation, BudgiT Foundation, State of the Union, SOTU, Order Paper, Femi Falana Chamber, HEDA Resource Center and Awareness for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution

According to the statement, the legislative year is from June 2019 to July 2020, two months of vacations, 56 holidays, 6 weeks of Yuletide vocation, 42 days, 7 weeks off due to coronavirus, 49 days in addition to 62 days for the Saturdays and Sundays this. means 216 days of the 365 days of the year. “Therefore, the National Assembly met only 149 days instead of the 181 days prescribed by the constitution.

The statement reads in part: “We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are obliged to issue this statement due to the abandonment of legislative activities by the National Assembly at a time when its role is more critical than ever. , not only to join the Executive in finding solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing the country, but also to ensure that there is no overreach by the Executive, as emergency powers are being invoked to implement a series of measures, apparently to control the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.

“So it was shocking to wake up to the Aug. 19 directive from the House of Representatives leadership suspending all legislative activities, including investigative hearings that had captivated the nation. The House leadership built on the established global practice of suspending legislative activities while the institution of the legislature is on hold.

“However, given the importance of hearings and the limited time available for the National Assembly to carry out reforms in the nation’s electoral laws, review the Constitution, consider the Appropriation Bill of 2021 and attend to many others. pending legislative assignments, there was no justification or reason given for the illogical step taken by the House of Representatives to suspend the committee’s activities.

“We dare to say that even if this decision was made with good intentions, it is reckless, inopportune and futile, as it fuels all forms of conspiracy theories and interpretation of collusion and the attempt to cover up fraud, especially given that the National The assembly is already plagued by a lack of credibility or public trust. The National Assembly cannot afford another bad press given its already negative image and perception by citizens ”.

CSOs also called on House leadership to urgently allow various House Committees to begin their legislative and oversight functions, including suspended public hearings.

“We therefore urge the House leadership to treat these matters as matters of urgent national and public importance, rescind this decision, and allow various committees to continue legislative and oversight activities, including the conclusion of suspended investigative hearings. .

“We also ask the Chamber to ensure that the reports and results of these investigative hearings are made public and that all the guilty are brought to justice,” he stressed.

In conclusion, CSOs also in the communiqué called for the fight against corruption to intensify their action against corrupt people in the country.

Finally, we call on all anti-corruption agencies to fulfill their responsibilities by following up on these investigative hearings to gather actionable evidence to prosecute those who have violated various anti-corruption laws and regulations.

“There is already an enormous amount of information in the public domain and it baffles the imagination that anti-corruption agencies are sitting helpless and tight-lipped at a time like this when they should be busy pressing criminal charges against those already charged. for the evidence that emanated from the legislative hearings, “he added.

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