A bill seeking to alter the constitution to allow public officers own and operate foreign bank accounts is currently being considered by the Senate.
The Senate Bill number 347 sponsored by Senator Solomon Olamilekan was obtained by THE PUNCH, in Abuja, on Wednesday.
Entitled, “An Act to Alter The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 To Permit Public Officers to Maintain or Operate a Bank Account In Any Country Outside Nigeria; And For Related Matters,” the bill seeks to alter a part of the fifth schedule of the constitution.
In an explanatory memorandum attached to it, the sponsor of the bill said, “This bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, in order to delete the provision in the Code of Conduct for public officers which forbids them from operating a bank account in a bank outside Nigeria.
“This is owing to the fact that the prohibition does no accord with the current realities where the world has become a global village, where illicit funds could easily be tracked.”
Specifically, the bill seeks to alter Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution on the Code of Conduct of Public Officers by deleting paragraph 3.
Reacting to this development, the Executive Director of the Civil Societies Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwual Musa-Rafsanjani, said the bill in question was self serving.
He said, “I don’t know if our present crops of legislators are in the National Assembly to serve themselves or to serve Nigerians. Are these the kind of bills they should be dissipating their energy on at this time of economic emergency?
“I think Nigerians have a duty to rise up and let these people know that there is hunger in the land and that what we expect are practical solutions to our economic challenges.”
Olamilekan has also sponsored another bill in which he is seeking to alter the constitution to allow lawmakers to share powers with the President on the issue of removing of non-performing ministers from office.
The Bill is entitled: “An Act to Amend The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 To Provide For The Consent Of the Senate/State House of Assembly For the Removal Of A Minister Of the Government of the Federation/ Commissioner Of the Government Of A State.”
The bill seeks to alter Section 147 of the Principal Act by inserting a new subsection (4).
If passed into law, Section 4 will then read: “Any person appointed to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation may be removed from such office (by) the President for inability to discharge the functions of the office in question (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body) or for misconduct or for contravention of any Act of the Federation: Provided that the Senate concurs with such removal by a unanimous vote.”
The President currently reserves the right to fire ministers as he deems fit without recourse to the National Assembly.