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Senators kick as Osinbajo withholds assent to four bills

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Some senators grumbled yesterday as Senate President Bukola Saraki conveyed the decision of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to withhold assent to four bills passed by the National Assembly.

Prof. Osinbajo’s letters withholding assent to the four bills were read by the senate president.

Saraki said the Senate would refer the bills to the legal department to enable it decide the next line of action.

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The four bills are: National Lottery (Amendment) Bill passed by the National Assembly in 2016; the Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Bill also passed in 2016; Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill 2016 and Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Prof. Osinbajo said the withholding of assent to the bills was based on Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended.)
On the refusal of assent to the National Lottery (Amendment) Bill, the Acting President said that the rationale for withholding assent to the Bill was the existence of pending legal challenge to the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject matter.

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On the Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill, Osinbajo explained that he withheld assent to the Bill as a result of concerns regarding certain words and phrases in the draft Bill that may be inconsistent with the Principal Act, “for example Section 6 of the Bill with Section 21 of the Principal Act” and the spirit behind the proposed amendments.

On rejection of the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund(Amendment) Bill, the Acting President said: “The reason for withholding assent to the bill are the concerns surrounding board composition, funding arrangements, limitation of liability of funds and proposal to increase levels of uncollateralised loans from N5,000 to N250,000.”

On why he withheld assent to the Currency Conversion (Freezing Orders) Bill.2016, Osinbajo said: “The rationale for withholding assent to the bill is the concern regarding the modalities for the communication of asset forfeiture orders.”

Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), who sponsored the National Lottery Amendment Bill, claimed that the Executive lacked the powers to reject bills passed by the National Assembly.

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He said: “The role of the executive is to carry out their traditional role by signing any bills passed by the National Assembly.”

Senator George Sekibo told the Senate that it had the power to override the Acting President.

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