The Senate on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 halted the progress of a Bill for second reading following questions raised on the general principles of the Bill. The legislation entitled “A Bill for an Act to incorporate and enforce certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the rights of Women in Africa and matter connected therewith, 2016 (S.B. 116)”sponsored by Sen. Biodun Olujimi (Ekiti South).
Leading the debate on Bill, Sen. Olujimi noted that section 4 of the U.N. Charter deals with the prohibition of discrimination against persons on the ground of gender, while section 5 of the Charter ensures the full protection of fundamental rights of persons irrespective of their gender. She disclosed that in most parts of Nigeria, the Girl Child education right is discriminated against when compared with that of their male counterparts; she revealed that the United Nations Population Fund has disclosed that two-third of the world’s illiterates are women because they are marginalized worldwide in almost all spheres of life.
The Bill enjoyed the support of the following distinguished Senators during its debate: Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Ibrahim Gobir, Ike Ekweremadu, Fatima Raji Rasak, Muhammed Ali Ndume, and Binta Masi Garba.
However, Sen. Ahmad Rufa’i Sani led the opposition against the Bill stating that Section 5 of the Bill is in conflict with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which enshrines the Freedom of Religion; adding that the issue of equitable sharing of inheritance between the male and female is equally in conflict with the provision of the Constitution and the provisions of the Sharia law. He therefore called on the sponsor of the Bill to withdraw it because it falls short of Constitutional requirements. The Bill failed to scale through second reading when it was put on voice vote by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Meanwhile, the Senate has debated and passed a Motion titled “Interim Financial and Material Support/Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Returnees in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States”, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader, Muhammed Ali Ndume and Eight others. Accordingly, the Motion sailed through with six resolutions below:
1) Urge the Federal Government to release grains from the strategic grains reserve to the affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
2) Direct the Senate Committee on Appropriation to allocate the sum of N10 billion under Service Wide Vote for relocation and resettlement of the IDPs returnees in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
3) Urge NEMA and National Refugee Commission to make special arrangement for the repatriation and resettlement of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
4) Direct the appropriate Committees to write a letter of appreciation to the Embassies of host countries where the refugees are accommodated.
5) Urge the Victim Support Fund to allocate reasonable amount from the fund for immediate relocation and resettlement of the IDPs pending the short and medium term plans, they may have.
6) Include IDPs centers in Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue and other States in the Federation.