The Senate has taken a swipe at the Nigerian Law Reform Commission, describing it as a dormant institution.
Speaking on Wednesday in Abuja during the screening of nominees into the Commission that were forwarded to the Senate for confirmation by President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele, All Progressives Congress, APC, Ekiti Central alleged that the dormancy was largely responsible for the continued existence of obsolete laws in the Nation’s Statue book. Other members of the Committee also lampooned the Commission. Specifically, a member of the Committee, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, PDP Delta North said: “This Commission as the body constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of law reforms, ordinarily supposed to be visible but not visible at all.” Another member of the committee, Senator Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central said that for the Commission to have in its record, only seven attempts of law reforms between 2017 and 2020 is an indication that it is dormant. Senator Basiru said, “The worrisome aspect of the Dormancy, are the existence of obsolete penalty clauses in our law books begging for a review.
“Obsolescence of penalties like N200 fine or six months jail term for offenders of serious crime is ridiculous and not deterrent as it supposed to be.” On his part, the nominee for the Chairmanship position of the Commission, Professor Jummai Audi who noted that it has always been the wish of the Commission to carry out law reforms against obsolete laws, said however that the Extant Act regulating the activities of the Commission is more of stumbling block against such moves. According to her, the Extant Act empowers only the Attorney General of the Federation for that purpose and no other person or body, adding that the way out for the Commission to be vibrant as far as law reforms are concerned, is for the 9th National Assembly to ensure the passage of a reform bill seeking to reform the Commission for better performance.
Audi explained that the bill had passed through all the stages of legislation in the House of Representatives waiting for Senate concurrence. In his closing remarks after the screening, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Bamidele who assured her that the Senate would expedite action on the bill in getting it passed by the National Assembly, said, “Be rest assured that the Senate will work on the bill in getting it passed very soon as a way of strengthening the Commission for better performance and invariably upgrading our legal system for effective and efficient dispensation of justice.” Besides the Chairmanship Nominee, two out of the three other nominees for membership of the Commission also appeared before the Committee for screening. They were Hon Ibrahim Mohammed Olatunji from Osun State and Barrister Bassey Dan Abia from Akwa-Ibom State. The nominee for the South East Geo-Political Zone, Ebele Donald Chima was however absent.