LAGOS ASSEMBLY TO CREATE A PUBLIC COMPLAINTS AND ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION; CONSIDERS BILL TO ADDRESS ISSUES RELATING TO PUBLIC COMPLAINT ON ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS
Lagos State House of Assembly has proposed a legislation that will address the dealings of public officers in the State.
This was fostered by the elements of accountability and transparency for a sustainable democracy and lack of which will effectuate chaos and enkindle the fabrics of democratic practices.
The Bill titled, “A Bill for a Law to establish the Lagos State public complaints and anti-corruption commission and for connected purposes” went through Public Hearing on Friday, October 30th, 2020 at the Assembly Pavilion.
The Law calls for creation of a commission which shall have the power to investigate either on its own initiative or following complaints lodged before it by any other person on any administrative action taken by a public official.
The Bill shall ensure that administrative actions by any person(s) mentioned under the Law will not result in act of injustice against any indigene of the State or any other person resident in the State and for that purpose the Commission shall investigate with special care any administrative act, which is or appears to be; contrary to any Law or negation, improper, unfair, oppressive or inconsistent with the general institution of administrative organs.
It also buttressed the quest for gratifications committed by an officer and their penalties which include amongst others; corrupt offers to public officers, corrupt demand by person, obstruction of investigation, making false statements or return, bribery for giving assistance in regards to contracts, and prosecution of offences under the Law.
In addition, the commission will be charged with the power to examine persons, invitation to an accused person, detention of person refusing to acknowledge service, failure to appear after receipt of invitation, forcible entry into premises, custody of seized property, legal obligation to give information, obstruction of inspection and search.
However, the commission’s function will be curtailed and limited to issues that were pending to the State House of Assembly, Executive Order, and the Court of Law; as well as issues concerning members of the Armed, Police, Navy and Air Forces except where such actions affect the right of citizens and organization.
The Bill also encourages persons arrested of the right to remain silent, confidentiality, immunity of the officers of the commission, and right to appeal.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, Hon. Victor Akande said that the Bill intends to conform to the modern day reality.
“It is my hope that the proposed legislation will bring sanity into our dealings as public officers of the State. I therefore enjoin the participants to make meaningful contributions on the Bill in order to stand the test of time.” He said.
In his keynote address, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Mudashiru Obasa, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinloklun-Sanni, said that public hearing and stakeholders’ consultations are essential features of a good legislative process that can engender progressive governance.
“One lesson from the recent Endsars riot is that we must not levitate off from the state’s sustained efforts at earning more public trust by improving public transparency and accountability in all the spheres of our public governance.”
“This underscores the stature of this Bill as not just germane towards ensuring further public accountability and trust, but also further enhances our security, because, where there is public trust in the leadership, public satisfaction will increase and conversely decreases crime rate.”
He added that it is sacrosanct to hear from and incorporate the conscience and thoughts of the public to make a good law.
The leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, who did the overview of the Bill, said that the establishment of the Bill is to prevent any administrative actions that can cause injustice to persons within that administrative jurisdiction.
Highlighting that the Law consist of 53 sections, Hon. Agunbiade added that “to ensure diligence, the bill creates a clear administrative structure; offences under the scope of the commission; the jurisdiction; modus operandi of the commission; funds management and disciplinary procedures of the commission.”
One of the stakeholders, Comrade Babatunde Ashafa opined that responsiveness is key to achieving success. “When responsiveness is not addressed, the beauty of this bill may not be achieved.”
Mrs. Rotimi Odutola a representative from Citizenship and Mediation Centre suggested that the commission should be linked to the human right department of the police so that the commission can easily obtain a warrant of arrest.
Mr. Olayiwola Ibrahim while asking the criteria for the appointment of members into the commission suggested that considerations should be given to those who are of good behavior.
In response, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Wasiu Eshinloklun-Sanni commended the stakeholders for their contributions and assured them that their contributions will be favourably considered by the Committee.