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Senate passes Police Reform, NHIS, PIGB, INEC bills

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•What Nigerians are saying

Jude Johnson

The Police Reform Bill, 2019, codenamed ‘Senate Bill 683’ was passed on Wednesday by the Nigerian Senate after the third reading on the floor of the Red Chamber.

The bill was passed after a report presented by Senator Tijjanj Kaura (APC-Zamfara North), which was seconded by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP-Abia North).

The report was prepared by Senate’s Committee on Police Affairs.

The police reform bill, which is aimed at improving policing standards in the country, was passed at a time Nigerians are calling for reform in the force over alleged extra-judicial killings by police officers.

The bill was said to have been described as “the most important Bill of the 8th Senate” by some UK delegates that attended the orientation programme organised for senators-elect of the 9th Senate recently.

Speaking after the bill was passed, Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki said it was passed to “ensure that the Police officers are of better condition and are more productive.”

“We want to ensure that our people are protected at all time. I think this is a very great achievement for all of us and I hope we continue to provide better security for our people, protect lives and citizens.

“This will go a long way to show that we are a listening Parliament, listening Senate and there is nothing better we can do in honour of those who have lost their lives along the way due to the fact that our laws at that time were not in line,” Saraki added.

He expressed gratitude to “the Deputy Leader and all those who had contributed for this very important Bill.”

Saraki thanked the Police Senate Committee, just as he noted that nothing had been done to address the Police Act as a reform since 1943.

“I want to thank particularly the Police Committee; the Chairman and members, and our colleagues for their contributions and their work in passing this Bill,” said the Senate President.

The bill will now be transmitted to the House of Representative for consensus.

Meanwhile, following the passage, Nigerians took to Twitter to express mixed feelings about the bill.

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In the same vein, the Senate also passed the National Health Insurance (NHIS) Act, 2003 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2019, the petroleum industry governance bill (PIGB) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) act 2010 (amendment) bill 2019.

President Muhammadu Buhari had initially rejected the bills claiming they had legal, constitutional and drafting issues after which the senate set up a technical committee to review the bills.

However, the bills were being passed today after Ahmad Lawan, senate leader, moved a motion and referred for the committee of the whole for consideration.

After the technical committee effected corrections, the senators considered the clauses of each of the bills and passed them.

Reacting to the bill’s passage, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the action of the senate on the NHIS bill is to ensure that Nigerians have basic healthcare.

Saraki congratulated the chairman of Senate Health Committee, Senator Lanre Tejuoso; and all those who worked on the bill saying, “it is a massive achievement towards achieving universal coverage in the country.”

On the passage of the INEC bill, he said, “It’s a great day for our democracy, as today, we passed a new and much-improved version of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Amendment Bill.”

Other bills passed by the senate are the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (amendment) bill 2019 and the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism bill 2019, National Research and Innovation Council bill 2019, Stamp Duties act (amendment) bill 2019 and National Agricultural Seed Council bill 2019.

Credits| TW

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