Some lawyers in Lagos on Friday reacted to the ongoing amendment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act by the Senate, describing it as self-serving and unacceptable.
The lawyers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the amendment was ill-timed and a breach of public trust.
NAN reports that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is currently being tried for alleged false declaration of assets by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The bill to amend the CCT Act, has within 48 hours, scaled the second reading in the Upper Chamber.
Mr Dotun Adetunji, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikorodu Branch, Lagos State, said the amendment of the CCT Act at this point was a “shameful act.’’
He said any amendment to a law based on vested interest was contrary to the rule of law and the ethics of good governance.
“This action of the Senate while its president is undergoing trial at the CCT is a shameful act.
“It is also a slap on the generality of Nigerians that voted them into office and a breach of the trust expected of them.
“This move by the Senate will not put this nation in good standing in the international community,’’ he told NAN.
According to him, the amendment of the CCT Act by the Senate will not in any way bring Nigeria close to a sane society.
“The rule of law is supposed to create a sane society and that is why its principles aim to ensure that a nation is governed by law and not by men’s self-serving interests.
“The international community and Nigerians in diaspora should raise their voices in addition to all of us within the country to condemn this move by the Senate,’’ the NBA chief added.
Another lawyer, Mr Ataene Spurgeon, said although the National Assembly was empowered by the statute books to make laws for the country, the amendment of the CCT Act might be a “coincidence.’’
“The amendment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act is a `coincidence’ with the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.’’
“If the laws establishing the Code of Conduct bureau and the Code of Conduct Tribunal are faulty, it becomes necessary for the sake of the good governance to amend the same.
“If three judges ought to sit on a particular tribunal and there are only two judges presently sitting, then there is a gap in the law which needs to be addressed for the future, ’’ he also told NAN.
For Mr Ola Ogunbiyi, the amendment should not affect the trial of the senate president.
“The trial can only be affected if the trial is stalled till after the amendment.
“The Senate can at any point amend the law, that it is being amended at this point in time is not an issue.
“The law begins to take its course the day it is signed into law; it is not going to be retrospective.
“Now it is not a law, it is still under amendment before the Senate and it will not affect his trial.’’
An Abeokuta-based legal practitioner, Mr Emmanuel Olu-Alade, said there was no law forbidding amendment of an Act because someone was on trial.
“The question is, what are the paragraphs that are currently being amended and what would be the effect of the amended paragraphs considering the ongoing trial of Bukola Saraki.
In his contributions, Mr Wale Ogunade, a lawyer and public affairs analyst, said:
“The Senate is required by law to amend laws.
“However, in the case of the amendment of the CCT Act by the Senate, the question to ask is: does the Senate have an honest intention or an ulterior motive.
“My opinion is that the recent moves by the Senate to amend the CCT Act were designed to frustrate the trial of Saraki.
“It is designed to water down the Act making it worthless, useless and of no effect whatsoever.” (NAN)