Contempt of parliament: Heads of MDAs risk 2-year jail term
A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of Section 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill was sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabimila and the Chairman, Rules and Business, Abubakar Fulata at the plenary on Wednesday.
Presenting the bill, Fulata said that Section 89 states that anybody who is summoned by the parliament and refuses to appear would be issued a warrant of arrest and be compelled to appear.
He said that the bill seeks to alter the provision to state that anyone who refuses or ignores the summon of parliament shall, upon conviction be guilty of contempt and shall be liable to a fine of N500,000 or two years imprisonment or both.
In his ruling, the speaker referred the bill to the Special House Committee on Constitutional Review for further legislative actions.
It would be recalled that Ministers, Heads of Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) had often failed to appear before parliament to either defend budget or to provide documents for investigations.
The refusal of public officers to appear before parliament especially during budget defense had led to delay in budget passage over the years.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had to compel some heads of MDAs to appear before parliament to defend the 2019 budget.