Determined to seek redress following perceived injustice, outgoing Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Sani Omolori, has faulted the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) over its decision to compulsorily retire him and 149 others. Omolori said the law cited by the commission for its action never existed and all the decisions made with respect to it were null and void.
In yet another statement, dated July 16, 2020, and addressed to the chairman of the commission, Ahmed Kadi Amshi, Omolori said the press release he issued on the development, which was queried by the commission, was not intended to undermine the body. He said he only wanted to clarify the issues at stake in order to ensure peace within the National Assembly workforce.
NASC had on Thursday queried Omolori for rejecting retirement following a press statement he issued describing the decision of the commission as illegal. He contended that there was no legal basis for the recent mass retirements, as the National Assembly Service Commission Act 2014, upon which the commission based its action, did not exist in law and, therefore, all actions built on it were null and void.
In a letter dated July 15, 2020 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, a copy of which was sighted at the office of a presiding officer of the National Assembly, the embattled top bureaucrat and lawyer alleged serious anomaly with regard to the National Assembly Service Commission Act 2014 as passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.
The said act was signed into law in 2014 by then President Goodluck Jonathan, when Senator David Mark was senate president, and Aminu Tambawul, was Speaker of the House of Representatives
The seven-page letter by Omolori, which was also copied to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase, as well as the 14 principal officers in both chambers of the National Assembly, addressed the on-going controversy over responsibility for final approval of the conditions of service for the National Assembly.
Omolori chronicled the various processes leading to the repealing of the National Assembly Service Commission Act, Cap N7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, and re-enactment of the National Assembly Service Administrative Structure Bill, and claimed that the bill signed into law by Jonathan omitted Section 19 (2) of what was passed by the National Assembly. He said the omitted section 19 (2) was what ought to give legal authority to the National Assembly Service Commission for all its actions.
Omolori explained, “The clear implication, Your Excellencies, is that anything done or purported to have been done under that Act is null and Void. It, therefore, means that the purported repeal of the National Assembly Service Act, Cap N7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014 as contained in Section I (l) of the National Assembly Service Commission Act of 2014 is of no effect as we must fall back on the National Assembly Service Act Cap N7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.”
He stated in the letter, “I write to draw your attention to a very serious anomaly with regard to the National Assembly Service Commission Act 2014 as duly passed into law by the National Assembly and as assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It will appear that the on-going controversy as to who is responsible for the final approval of the conditions of service for the Assembly, promoted some concerned individuals, present and former lawmakers, who were privy to the process of enacting that Act to draw attention to a huge gap between what the 7th Assembly passed and what is now in circulation as the Act.
“In view of my onerous duty as the Clerk of the National Assembly and the seriousness of the concerns raised, it became highly imperative to investigate the facts and circumstances of the matter. My findings are presented below.
“On Wednesday, 15th May, 2013, the House of Representatives resolved into a Committee of the Whole and considered the report of ‘A Bill for an Act to Repeal the National Assembly Service Commission Act, Cap N7, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Re-Enact a National Assembly Service Administrative Structure Bill for improved Service Delivery; and other Related Matters’) (hereafter referred to as ‘the Bill’).
“The particulars of the Bill as considered, passed and adopted on that day are in Appendix G A’ (pages 876-887). You may wish to note particularly Clause 19 (1) and (2) on page 883. On Wednesday 11th December 2013, the Senate resolved and considered part of the Bill in a Committee of the Whole and deferred further consideration to another Legislative Day.
“The Senate Votes and Proceeding marked as Appendix ‘B’. The Senate resumed consideration of the Bill on Wednesday, 9th March, 2014, approved the Report in Plenary – adopted the Bill – read it the third time and passed it on the same day. As the Bill passed by both Houses had differences, a harmonisation committee was constituted in both Houses in line with Parliamentary rules to meet and reconcile the differences.”
He explained that the details of the harmonisation report, which showed graphically what both chambers adopted and the conference recommendations in the areas they had differences, was contained in Appendix “E”.
Omolori stated, “On the 27th May 2014, the House received and adopted the harmonisation report of the Bill. On the Senate side, the report of the Harmonisation Committee was laid on 27th May 2004 and adopted on 5th June 2014. Curiously, the bill signed into an Act by the president omitted Section 19 (2). Your Excellencies, it is obvious from the above sequence that the Act represents any other thing but the wishes of the parliament.
“For to become an Act as a binding law, it must go through the legislative process and duly passed by the parliament. Thereafter, the president assents to it. The unique but compulsory requirement is that the chain must be unbroken to the extent that the president is to sign the bill as passed by the parliament. No omission and no addition except for a veto, which will call for further legislative action.
“In the circumstances of this Act and with this obvious omission, I advocate that we do the needful. Indeed, we should be mindful of this omission and, in the least, give expression to the wishes of the parliament.