The Nigerian Senate has said it was very lucky to have held plenary sessions for only 66 days in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Naija News reports that the spokesman of the Red Chamber, Senator Ajibola Basiru, made the submission during an appearance on Channels Television on Tuesday.
Bashiru stated that the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Senate leadership to reduce the number of days of plenary from three to two days due to the increased cases of the dreaded virus in the country.
He agreed that the Senate failed to meet the 181 days stipulated in Section 63 of the 1999 constitution, but didn’t violate the law.
The Senator argued that the lawmakers have not contravened the provision of the constitution in any way because it was a matter of emergency.
He said: “There is COVID-19 pandemic, and as of 2020 when the pandemic started, there was a general lockdown in the country that we could not sit for six months.
“We are lucky that in 2021, we were able to sit. But from the beginning of the year, it was made very clear that we would only sit on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“So, if people who talk about the senate not sitting up to the time are oblivious of the challenge of COVID-19, so be it.
“The decision to reduce the numbers of days for plenary does not contravene the provision of the constitution in any way because it was a matter of emergency.
On why the lawmakers failed to hold virtual plenary sessions, Basiru said that provision has not been made for them in the Senate rule.
He added: “When you have a law and you have situations of emergency not in contemplation of that law, I think it sounds reasonable that you should be able to act timeously
“The national legislators needed to act within the reality of the time. This is not a matter of only Nigeria, it is a global phenomenon.
“So, if COVID-19 is not a compelling reason to adjust our calendar and sittings, people who think rules have been breached can take the matter to court for adjudication.
“We couldn’t have virtual sitting because it is not yet part of what we have provided for under our rules.
“It suffices to say that the work of the national assembly is not limited to plenary, we have committee assignments, we have oversight functions and we have constituency work.
“We had to adjust our calendar administratively to ensure that we comply with the COVID-19 demands.”
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