Reps seek stiffer sanction for breach of Currency Conversion Freezing Order law

•Empower High Court Judge to exercise discretionary powers •Seek to confer additional powers on Federal Character Commission

A bill which seeks to impose stiffer sanction on the breach of the provisions of the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) Act Cap. C43 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Act has been gazetted for the second reading on the floor of House of Representatives on resumption from the annual recess.

The bill was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Ahmed Wase seeks to “give discretionary powers to the Judge of a High Court, to order forfeiture of assets of the affected person, and for related matters.

The Deputy Speaker has over the past one year sponsored 12 bills.

According to the bill seen by Tribune Online, the proposed legislation seeks to amend Section 9 (1) of the Principal Act by substitution for the phrase the President may in his discretion direct that in line 2, the phrase, the judge of a High Court may after hearing the parties direct that.

It also seeks to expunge Section 9(2) of the Principal Act.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum of the bill, the proposed legislation seeks to amend the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) Act, Cap. C43 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to give discretionary powers to the Judge of a High Court, to order forfeiture of assets of the affected person.

Other bills sponsored by the Deputy Speaker that have been gazetted for second reading include: ‘Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal (Amendment) Bill, Federal Commissions (Privileges & Immunities) amendment bill, Miscellaneous Offences Act (Repeal) Bill, National Institute for Sports Act (Establishment) bill and the Federal University of Agriculture, Wase (Establishment) bill.

Four other bills sponsored by Hon. Wase that is currently referred to the Committee of the Whole are National Housing Fund (Establishment) Bill, Nigeria Football Federation bill, National Sports Commission bill and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) bill, while the Federal University Gashua bill has been assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the same vein, the House is also expected to commence debate on the general principles of a bill which seeks to amend the Federal Character Commission (Establishment etc) Act, Cap. F7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 by giving the Commission additional powers to enable it to discharge its functions more effectively; and for related matters.

The bill sponsored by Hon. Ahmed Idris specifically seeks to amend Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15 of the Principal Act.

As proposed by the Deputy Speaker, the bill seeks to amend the provisions of Section 2 by amending subsection 1a, by inserting the words and accounting officer immediately after the word Executive.

It also seeks to amend Section 4(1a), by substituting for the word President in line 1, the words National Assembly or the State House of Assembly, as the case may be, in subsection (2), by inserting immediately after the existing paragraph (j) a new paragraph (k) to enforce the federal character guidelines and formulae in any company in which the Federal, State or Local Governments has at least 40% shareholding interest.”

The proponent of the bill also seeks to provide a new subsection (5 and 7 which provides that: “The approval required to be made by the National or State House of Assembly, as the case may be, under this section and elsewhere in this Bill shall be by a simple majority vote of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives or State House of Assembly present and voting in their respective chambers.

In exercising its powers under section 4(1a) of this Act, the Commission shall have regard for the need to ensure gender equity and the need for fair representation of the physically challenged person.

For the purposes of section 4(1d & i) of this Act, the annual budgetary proposals by any Ministry, Extra-Ministerial department or agency for the provision of socio-economic services, amenities and infrastructural facilities shall be made in consultation with the Commission.

Hon. Wase also proposed the amendment of Section 5(1) by adding a new paragraph (cc) to empower the Commission to “suspend, cancel or set aside any recruitment exercise, process or distribution of amenities being carried out by any Ministry, Extra-Ministerial Department, agency or any company in which the government has 40 per cent shareholding interest where such recruitment was conducted in a manner inconsistent or in contravention with any guideline or formula worked out by the commission and approved by the National or State House of Assembly.”

The bill also seeks to empower the commission to institute investigations, summon and to interrogate any officer of the institution or organization connected with the subject matter of the investigation.

Hon. Wase also proposed an upward review of the penalties in Section 15(1, 2), by substituting N50,000 to N250,000, and increase the initial N100,000 to N2,500,000.

The bill also seeks to amend section 16A which provides that: Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 14 and 15, the Commission may seek for an order of injunction, mandamus, certiorari, or prohibition from any High Court to enforce compliance with any guideline and formula, directive, circular or instruction issued by it under this Act.

 

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