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Senate Proposes Stiffer Penalties For Labour Related Offences



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Senate Proposes Stiffer Penalties For Labour Related Offences

The Senate has moved a step further in the review of the existing laws in the labour sector such that will gaurantee dignity and protection of Nigerian employees, as bill passed second reading.

The Bill: Labour Act Amendment Bill 2021, which was sponsored by Senator Ezennwa Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East), was first read on 14‘h of July, 2020.

The Bill seeks to amend the existing Labour Act Cap L1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, by reviewing labour fines upward and other related matters.

Essentially, the bill seeks to amend the present fines for offenses in the Labour Act which are now obsolete and bring them in line with modern realities”

“It therefore reviews upwards fines in the Labour Act for offenses relating to S21 (Breach of terms and conditions of employment as it relates to the wage hour, nature of employment, leave, contracts of employment among others, said Senator Francis in the lead debate.

He said the present fines for offenses in the Nigerian Labour Act are obsolete in context and content. The sanction, penalty and interest payable under the Act are ridiculously low and do not reflect current economic realities and therefore cannot provide the needed protection for workers in the labour market.

Consequently, the bill proposed an increment of fines for first offence and second or subsequent offences, from as low as N200 to N500,000 and N1,000,000 respectively to serve as deterrent to employers involved abusing rights of their workers.

In his contribution to the debate, Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North) said “ill-treatment of employees by employers through terms of engagement which are arbinitio obnoxious, offensive and exploitative is what this Bill seeks to address,

“I want to say that actions and policies of employers that negate the right of workers can no longer be condoned, said the Plateau Senator who recommended severe sanctions that would serve as deterrent against such practices.

Rochas Okorocha (Imo West) described the current work conditions in the Nigerian working environment as unacceptable.

“The Bill seeks to dignifies workers in the labour market. Workers are not in anyway begers, so they should be treated with dignity.

“It is unfortunate today because of the high rate of unemployment, our sons and daughters are moving from places to places, even in the national assembly looking for white collar jobs and they are looking for this job under any condition which is not supposed to be in the first place.

“The time has come to help government in whatever form or shape to take these young men and women of the street. That is also part of dignifying labour or dignifying humanity, said the former Imo governor who urged his colleagues at the red chamber to employ five people each in their personal capacity to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.

On his part, Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Abdullahi Sabi,, (APC, Niger) said his particular interest in the bill is in three important segment in the labour law amendment. The first one, he said, is the discrimination against women, the issue of child labour and force labour.

He said thet are very important, just as he described them as key issues in the front burner of contemporary labour management and by amending this provisions, this senate and indeed the national assembly would have resolved some of the most salient issues in the labour law.

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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm




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Insecurity: Nigeria under siege, Senate raises the alarm

The Senate has raised the alarm that Nigeria is presently under siege from murderous non – state actors, whose activities are threatening the cooperate existence of the country.

To make the matter more scary records from the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), indicated that out of 500 million Illegal weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70%, are domiciled in Nigeria for evil activities of criminally minded people .

Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), Made the frightening submissions at the public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Navy and Marine Transport on Firearms Act 2004 ( Amendment) Bill 2021 and Exclusive Economic Zones Act 2010 ( Repeal and Re – Enactment) Bill 2021.

He said the country needs to urgently address the worrisome situation.

Sani the sponsor of the Firearms (Amendment) Bill lamented that proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition in the country with little or no control by relevant authorities has profound implications for collective survival of Nigerians and Nigeria.

He said, “We are gathered here to deal with a matter that has profound implications for our collective survival.

“We are under siege from murderous non – state actors. They have been acquiring arms illegally, maiming our people and threatening the continued existence of our dear Nation. 

“We either take measures to deny them of the oxygen that sustains their nefarious activities, or we watch helplessly as they overrun us and our country.”

The main aim of the proposed amendments to the Firearms Act, he explained, is to curtail the proliferation of illegal arms and bring the existing law in line with global best practices.

He lamented that “The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), recently reported that the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Nigeria, has reached an alarming proportion.

“Analysts estimate that out of the 500 million weapons circulating in West Africa, 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, can be found in Nigeria.

“A pointer to this effect can be cited with the incidence of January 31st , 2017, when the Nigeria Customs Service confirmed the interception and seizure of 661 Pump Action Riffles imported from China into our country.

“More recently in Benue State, a local militia had the temerity to kill an Army Captain and 11 Soldiers not to talk of reign of terror in Owerri, Imo State by Gunmen who launched coordinated attacks on the Police headquarters and Correctional Centre .

“Something must be done urgently to curtail arms proliferation, the very reason for the proposed amendment bill on  the existing Firearms Act”, he said .

He listed the five major objectives of the amendment bill to include imposition of stiffer penalties for offences under the Act .

One of such penalties is the one under section 27 (sub section 1c), which proposed increase of fine from N1,000 to N1million .

Representative of Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Oladayo Amao, in his submission, objected to the N1million proposed fine on illegal possession of firearms arguing for its upward review to N2million.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the joint Commitee, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said the purpose of the two bills were to further strengthen the Nigerian extant laws against illegal firearms possession and proliferation as well as making provisions of the Act on Exclusive Economic Zone to be in line with global practices as far as protection of the Nation’s territorial sea or waters are concerned.

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RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road




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RCCG insists on refund of money for job not done on Ife-Ifewara road

*** FG denies payment of N151m to construction coy

The Federal Ministry of Works and Housing has debunked the claim by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) that it paid N151m to the Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited as part payment for a road project awarded to it but abandoned.

This was coming as the church apologized to the ministry for not following due process in executing the project but insisted whatever money was paid to the contractor be refunded to the coffers of the federal government. 

The RCCG however indicated that the apology does not in any way remove the fact which is the core of the petition that Cartil Construction Nigeria Limited should be made to refund every single kobo collected.

Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, A senior official of the RCCG, had petitioned the Senate, alleging that the ministry officials paid N151m to the firm for the construction of Ife-Ifewara Road in Osun State, which was rehabilitated by the church part of its corporate social responsibility. 

Adebanjo submitted the petition on behalf of the church’s General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

The RCCG in the petition alleged that the construction firm claimed the sum of N151, 508, 901.22 as reimbursement for the rehabilitation of the Ife-Ifewara Road, in Osun State which the church constructed.

“The church hereby request the Senate to look into the matter and among others, urge the firm to refund the money it collected to the coffers of the Federal Government,” it said. 

But the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said there was no payment made to the construction firm since the coming of this administration. 

Speaking on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Fashola said the construction of the 15km-long road was awarded in 2010 at a cost of N662.7 million. 

He said only money paid to the contractor was the N99.4million, which 15% of the contract sum as mobilisation fee, and N52million on 29 December 2011. 

“The two payments made to Cartill Construction Nigeria Limited were made on 31 March 2011 and 29 December 2011 respectively, four (4) years before the commencement of this Administration in 2015,” he said. 

He said the contractor did not make a claim for a refund for the cost expended on the rehabilitation of the road between 2016 and 2019 and that the ministry did not make any payment to firm. 

Fashola said the petitioner, RCCG, did not seek or obtain the approval of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing prior to or during the rehabilitation of the Road.

Fashola said: “The facts have shown that there is no basis for this. The allegations as reported are essentially false. 
“They bother on defamatory and I hope that the petitioner after listening to this will do the right thing and tender an apology. I think he got his facts all mixed up.”

“A request made to the Ministry by the Petitioner under the Freedom of Information Act would have avoided the cost of this hearing and saved taxpayers’ funds,” he added.

Responding, Pastor Niyi Adebanjo, who spoke for the church, acknowledged that the process that leads to the construction of the road is faulted. 

He said: “Those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it.” 

He added: “There is no doubting the fact that the Ministry of Works deserves an apology from us and because the whole world is listening to us, I tender that apology unreservedly before this Senate Committee. However, I am saying that those things he pointed out we agree point blank that it was our omission and it is not going to reoccur on our future dealings on our interventions any moment we decide to do it. 

“So, Honourable Minister, on behalf of Pastor E.A. Adeboye, I like to apologize to you for whatever this has brought to the government under your watch. 

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National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate




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National Food reserve Agency Bill scales through amidst opposition at senate

The Senate, on Wednesday, passed a bill seeking to establish the National Food Reserve Agency for Food security despite disagreement over its powers by senators.

Before the bill was passed, senators engaged in a heated debate over the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on the establishment of the agency. 
However, the Bill saw the light of day when the President ruled in its favor..

The bill was passed after the Red Chamber considered the report of its committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Senator Abdullahi Adamu, in his presentation, said, when established, it is expected to implement the overall National Food Reserve Policy to ensure a reliable supply of designated commodities in the country
He said with the existence of the agency, emergency food crises will be taken care of especially during the period of pandemic.

“There will also be a reduction in post-harvest losses as silos, warehouses, equipment, ancillary facilities and other suitable storage facilities will be installed and maintained,” he said.

Senator Ajibola Basiru (APC, Osun) had raised a constitutional matter that the National Assembly did not have the power to legislate on the establishment of the food reserve agency, citing section 4 of the 1999 constitution to back up his argument.

But Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger), Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto) and Adamu Aliero (Kebbi) countered Bashiru’s submission, arguing that the federal parliament is constitutionally empowered to legislate on matter of security and welfare of the people.

They said the agency was needed owing to the acute insecurity across the country, which has had effect on food production.

Senator James Manager (Rivers) said though there is need for the agency due to the situation in the country, sentiments cannot counter effectively the constitutional matter raised by Ajibola Basiru. 

He asked his colleagues to step down the 
the consideration of the report to another legislative day.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed and ruled that the Red Chamber should go ahead with the legislation.

Lawan said: “From a constitutional point of order our colleague raised that we don’t have such power, I think the National Assembly has such powers. I think the emergency in this country requires that we do everything possible to rescue, protect the lives and property of the people of this country.

“I believe we should go ahead to do our legislation.

“If anyone outside feels that the legislation is wrong, that person can go to the court so that the legislation is nullified and that is one thing with the practice of democracy.

“But I believe that Nigerians at the moment need this kind of legislation.”

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