Says it contradicts 1999 Constitution The Senate yesterday at its plenary session has rejected a bill seeking to empower and boost women status politically and economically, as well as guarantee their equal opportunities with men in diverse human endeavours. Those who opposed the bill argued that most of its provisions were in conflict with the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the same reason given by lawmakers in the Seventh Senate when similar bill was also killed.
The bill, sponsored by the Senate Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South), titled “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 Other Matters Connected Therewith, 2016 (SB. 116), which was scheduled to pass second reading, initially received the support of some senators but suddenly suffered a setback and finally died on the floor of the Chamber as the debate progressed. Presenting her lead debate on the bill, Olujimi said that it had become imperative for the law to be put in place in the effort to liberate women from all forms of discrimination, suppression and oppression in the country. Ike Ekweremadu, Bala Na’Allah, Ali Ndume and Binta Masi, among others, supported the bill and asked that it should be passed for the second reading.
The Deputy Senate President, in his contribution, said that even though he was in support of the bill, what Nigerians needed to achieve the goals being sought by the bill was education rather than legislation. He also cautioned that the Senate should be careful not to make laws that would put people in bondage instead of liberating them from restrictive legalistic tendencies. However, a former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani, vehemently kicked against the proposal, saying that most of its provisions contradict the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged the Senate to either kill the proposal or ask the sponsor to withdraw the bill, rework it and remove all the insertions that run contrary to the Constitution. Adamu Aliero, who also opposed the bill, said that it was not only in conflict with the Constitution but also the Sharia and common laws. Emmanuel Bwacha, in his views, said that the bill, if allowed to pass into law, would work against morality in the society, as women would take advantage of the provisions to indulge in unhindered freedom that would worsen the rate of moral decadence in the polity. When the President of the Senate put the bill to voice vote, those who rejected the document overwhelmed those in support and the initiative died.