Reps back down, moves to regazette controversial Water Resources Bill | International Centre for Investigative Reporting

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THE House of Representatives on Tuesday backed down further legislative action on the passage of the controversial Water Resources Bill.

The lawmakers after a motion moved by Benjamin Mzondu (Benue/PDP), unanimously resolved that the Bill should be regazetted for fresh consideration in line with the House Rules.

Mzondu in his motion complained that his privilege as contained in the House rules was breached as he was denied the opportunity to make inputs to the bill because the legislation wasn’t gazetted and copies distributed to House members in line with normal House rules and procedures.

He alleged that the House rules were breached in the consideration and passage of the bill which was recommitted and reconsidered by the House on July 23.

According tohim, when the Bill was considered by the House, he was denied the opportunity of contributing to its debate because the bill wasn’t gazetted and distributed to House members as required by Orders 12, 16, 17, and 18 of the House rules.

” I wish to refer to Order 6, Rule 1(1), 2 and 3 and Order 12, Rule 18 to state that I was deprived of my legislative privilege of sighting gazetted copy of the National Water Resources BillHB 921, and such could not participate in the consideration of the report by the Committee of the Whole, which also deprived me of my rights and privilege of representation to my people.

“Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, it is in the effort to eliminate the “Element of Surprise”, that the House in its wisdom, included in its Standing Rule, that every Bill, must be gazetted or clean copies circulated. It is important to note that the word emphasized here, is “gazette”, which means appearing in the Bills Journal of the House.

“The words used are clear and unambiguous, they ought to be given their ordinary meaning, as stated.

“Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, I was misled by the use of order 12, Rule 18 of our Standing Orders. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Colleagues, it is an issue of law and procedure, and Hon. Speaker, the onus of interpretation, lies with you. Where the Bill was labeled as Bill 2020, it was not considered as such.

“The laws lay, on your shoulder to interpret these rules as stated in Order 7 Rule 1(7). It is important to emphasize that I have painstakingly searched through all the journals of the House, and cannot find where the Bill is gazetted and I stand to be challenged or corrected.

“The next question for your consideration, Hon. Speaker, deals with jurisdiction, whether the House such powers to entertain a bill, such proceedings become a nullity, ab initio no matter how conducted and decided”.

“So having not met this condition, I wish to move, relying on Order8 Rule 8 and the above-stated rules, that “The House do rescind/expunge its decision of 23rd July 2020, which adopted the National Water Resources Bill, 2020 HB921 to have been read the Third time from our records,” he stated.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila in his ruling on Mzondu’s point of order, directed that the Bill be regazetted and reintroduced for consideration and passage or otherwise of the bill since it failed normal House legislative procedures.

Gbajabiamila stated that fundamental issues have been raised regarding the manner in which the Bill was passed, declaring that ordinarily “a matter of privilege is not debated, but l allowed contributions by members because of the importance of the matter.”

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