By Joy Odor
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, has accused the Nigerian Law Reform Commission, NLRC to be a dormant institution.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele ( APC Ekiti Central) and his members, stated this during screening of nominees into the NLRC forwarded to the Senate for confirmation by President Muhamnadu Buhari.
Dormancy of the commission, the committee members alleged, is largely responsible for continued existence of obsolete laws in the Nation’s Statue book.
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 for the Commission to have in its record , only seven attempts of law reforms between 2017 and 2020 , shows that is dormant.
“The worrisome aspect of the dormancy is the existence of obsolete penalty clauses in our law books begging for review.
“Obsolence 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,” he said.
However the nominee for the chairmanship position of the commission, Professor Jummai Audi, said it has always been the wish of the Commission to carry out law reforms against obsolete laws but 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.
She added 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.
The bill she explained had passed through all the stages of legislation in the House of Representatives waiting for Senate concurrence.
The Committee Chairman in his closing remarks after the screening exercise assured her that the Senate would expedite action on the bill in getting it passed by the National Assembly.
“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,” he said.
Aside the chairman 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.