THE 7th Senate, on the eve of its lifespan on Wednesday, passed 46 bills, among them the Sexual Offences Bill, which has been pending in the upper federal legislative chamber since 2013.
Wednesday’s session at the Senate became rowdy as senators hurriedly said ‘ayes’ to the 46 bills which will be transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, who introduced the bills said they had all been recently passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for concurrence.
Enang said the Senate had expended much resource on the processing of the bills and that they were needed to be passed before the 7th Senate is dissolved.
Consequently, the Senate invoked Order 1 (b) of the Senate Standing Order 2011 as amended to adopt a special procedure on the bills for concurrence.
Besides, the Senate suspended Order 79 (1) of the Senate Standing Orders, which portrayed all the bills as having passed first, second and third readings on the floor of the senate and concurred, as well as reproduced and circulated to senators.
Enang said, “The bills by this resolution are hereby read, and deemed read a third time and passed, to be transmitted to the President for assent in accordance with the Acts (Authentication) Act, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“That the votes and proceedings containing all bills be produced for adoption, as passed by the House.”
Senators Domingo Obende and George Sekibo opposed the passage of the bills in less than 10 minutes through voice votes.
Senate President David Mark however urged the aggrieved senators to protest in writing during plenary on Thursday (today).
The Sexual Offences Bill prescribes life imprisonment for anyone found guilty of sexual offences like rape and child sexual tourism, among others.
Some of the offences listed in the bill included rape, child sex tourism and people who deliberately infect others with HIV/AIDS.
Chairman of the Committee on Navy, Senator Chris Anyanwu, sponsored the bill, which is expected to pass concurrence in the House of Representatives on Thursday (today).
The bill also prescribes 10 years imprisonment for incest; 10 years imprisonment for child pornography or a fine of N2m, while those who engage in sex abuse will go to jail for 14 years.
The Chairman, Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru, said the bill sought to redefine and consolidate existing laws on sexual offences.
Anyanwu said the new sexual offences law had criminalised actions of “people who deliberately lace drinks with drugs with intent to stupefy and sexually abuse persons with mental disabilities, among others”
The other bills passed during the Senate record performance on Wednesday are, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Establishment etc) Act (Amendment), 2015; Office of the Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Bill; Institute of Chattered Trustees of Nigeria Bill; National Convicts and Criminal Records (Registry) Bill, 2015; Community Service Bill; People’s Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, and Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry Act (Repeal).
Others are, National Commission for Rehabilitation Act (Repeal), Bill; Maintenance Orders Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015; Federal Saving Bank Act (Repeal) Bill 2015, Loan (State Development) Act (Repeal), 2015; Nigerians in Diaspora (Establishment) Commission, 2015, and Electronic Transactions Bill, 2015.
The rest include the Chartered Institute of Statisticians of Nigeria, 2015; Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill, 2014; Federal Audit Commission Bill, 2015; National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation Act (Amendment,) Bill; Nigerian International Financial Centre (Establishment, etc) Bill, and the Investment and Securities (Amendment) Bill.