The Nigerian Senate has said it is impossible for it to initiate a bill that prescribes death penalty for looters. But will rather support any executive or private member bill that would criminalise acts of corruption.
The spokesperson for the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, stated this in an interview with PUNCH on Thursday.
He was reacting over outcry of some Nigerians and groups calling for a bill that prescribes the death penalty for treasury looters instead of the lawmakers devoting time to social media and hate speech bills.
Akwashiki explained that it was impossible for the Senate President to direct any senator to produce any particular bills, including one that prescribes the death penalty for looters.
“It is not possible for the Senate President to direct any senator to go and produce a particular type of bill. All of us are elected to represent our constituency from various parts of the country,” he said.
The Senate spokesperson also said different punishments were already prescribed against corruption in the acts that established the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“We have the ICPC Act and the EFCC Act and there are punishments there for offenders. I want to believe we are going gradually. However, any bill that would criminalise looting is a good proposal that the Senate could consider ” he said.
Akwashiki, however, said the executive arm of government, groups or individuals should initiate bills that prescribe the death penalty for treasury looters and see if the upper chamber would not push them through.
He also described as untrue insinuations that senators, particularly former governors and ministers in the red chamber, would reject such legislation in order to protect themselves.
He said, “We started a serious fight against corruption a few years ago when President Muhammadu Buhari got into office.
“The issue of a bill against corruption and looters in the Senate is a constitutional right of every senator, the executive arm of government, groups or private individuals.
“Anybody in the country is free to propose a bill through any senator. If you have such a proposal, get in touch with your senator, sit down with him and convince him why you want that type of law to be enacted.”
Stressing that the red chamber would support any bill that criminalises corruption, Akwashiki said, “This country belongs to all of us . Every person in this country has the right to present their opinion in terms of enacting an Act for the benefit of the people.
“When the Senate discovers there are many people requesting a particular bill, one day, one senator will just wake up and initiate a proposal and present it before his colleagues.”
He also said not all former governors or former ministers in the red chamber were corrupt.
He said, “We have 109 senators. How many are former governors or ministers?
“Are you saying we could get 60 senators who are either former governors or ministers?
“Senate is a place where everybody is free to express their opinions, according to the wishes of the people who elected them.
“The Senate chamber is higher than any former governor or minister.”