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Senate faults IG over anti-terror law

| November 24, 2012 More

•  Reps query states’ bid for loans

THE Senate Wednesday refuted claims by the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, that there is no anti-terrorism law to prosecute arrested Boko Haram members.

Besides, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Loans and Debt Management Wednesday expressed concerns over $171 million loan being sought by the Bauchi State government.

The committee had invited the Governor of Bauchi State, Isah Yuguda, and the governors of 11 other states to defend their requests for loans as captured in the 2012-2014 External Borrowing Plan of the Federal Government.

The lawmakers expressed apprehension at the huge foreign loans being requested by the various state governments in view of the possibility of the states falling into a debt trap in future.

Briefing journalists on the statement, Senate Chairman on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe, expressed surprise that more than a year and six months after Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 was signed into law, an arm of government still claimed ignorance of its existence.

The IG had said that the police could not prosecute members of Boko Haram in their custody as the Senate was still working on the anti-terrorism bill.

According to Abaribe, the bill was passed on June 1, 2011 and assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan on June 3, the same year in cognisance of the importance of the bill.

“Let me say that the Senate was very surprised and flabbergasted that the Inspector General of Police would say that there is no anti-terrorism law. Actually, it is called Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 and was passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on June 1, 2001 and on June 2, it was transmitted by the Clerk of the National Assembly to the President and to show how important it was to the President, he signed the law on June 3, 2011.”

Stressing that the law made adequate provisions for prosecution of terrorists, Abaribe maintained that the IG was not properly briefed by his legal staff.

“I have the bill here and it makes elaborate provisions for prevention of terrorism and for prosecuting those who have committed terrorism act. I think that the IG has not been briefed properly by his staff or legal staff of the existence of a bill that has been here for a year and five months after its passage.

“What happened is that even on top of the bill that has already been passed, the Senate went ahead to pass an amendment of this Act on October 17 this year, to expand parts of the provisions on that bill. Everything that you need to fight the war against terrorism is already in the bill.

“The amendment has been done and is currently undergoing harmonisation with members of the House of Representatives and would be over in few days time. But then, it was not the amendment that was the problem. The law itself is already there and what we just heard was that there was no law and we are saying it is not true, that there is a law and the law is right here in front of us.”

Abaribe, however, promised to forward another copy of the bill to the office of the IG as a proof that there is an existing law to prosecute terrorists.

“We are going to send a copy of this bill again to IG. We find it very difficult to believe that an arm of government could say that it does not have a law that has been signed by the President more than a year ago. I think there is something that is wrong there. So, it is not true that we do not have an anti-terrorism law; we actually have an anti-terrorism law, which has been passed since June and signed into law by Mr. President since June 2011,” Abaribe said.

Meanwhile, a day after it dedicated a whole session to pay tributes to the late Senate Leader, Olusola Saraki, the Senate again yesterday spent hours commending the late Justice Kayode Eso.

In a motion sponsored by Babajide Omoworare (Osun East) and 14 others including Ike Ekweremadu, Victor Ndoma-Egba, Ita Enang, James Manager and Joshua Lindani, the lawmakers noted with sadness, the death of the distinguished jurist on November 16 at the age of 87.

The Senate also considered the request of President Goodluck Jonathan, for the approval of the amendments to the 2012-2014 Medium Term External Borrowing Plan, which was received on November 20 and referred to its Committees on Local and Foreign Debt and Finance.

The House of Representatives’ Committee Loans on and Debt Management wanted the beneficiary states to justify the need for the loans and explain how they plan to liquidate the loans without jeopardising the smooth running of the states.

The Chairman of the Committee, Adeyinka Ajani, said the House embarked on the exercise in order to verify the state component in the External Borrowing Plan.

Yuguda, who was the only governor that attended the session, explained that the $171 million loan was meant to build an Independent Power Plant (IPP) in Bauchi State.

According to him, the state chose to borrow and invest in the power sector because of its capacity to trigger industrialisation and job creation in the economy.

He said that the loan had a pay back duration of 20 years with a six-year moratorium period. He assured that the state had chosen the right path and that the loan was sustainable.

But the committee said that the 2.5 per cent interest placed on the loan was too harsh, adding that it was not a very encouraging condition for the state.

To this, Yuguda said that the bank from which the money would be borrowed had its own terms and conditions, adding that Bauchi was not the only one subjected to such charges.

The governor further explained that the interest had already been built into the sustainability plan of the state.

But the committee sought to know if the loan would not cripple the economy of the state.

“What is the spirit behind the loan? We have seen loans taken by state governments, which failed to achieve results. How can the electorate monitor this loan especially in view of the fact that you no longer have another tenure after the expiration of this one?” the committee queried.

Members of the committee also met with the representatives of 11 other states, who are also seeking multi-million dollar external loans from international financial institutions to fund various projects. Besides Bauchi, others seeking foreign loans include Lagos, Edo, Kaduna, Ondo and Yobe states.

Category: Bauchi State News

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