In a bid to improve understanding of powers and limitations of public petition and ethics committees of the National Assembly as well as strengthen procedural strategies in dealing with public petitions and ethical issues, the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) recently organized a retreat for members of the National Assembly Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in Lagos, Nigeria.
In a keynote address read on behalf of the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan by Sen. Samuel Anyanwu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Relations, Senator Lawan said that linkages between citizens and elected representatives had remained one of the important features of democracy via public petitions.
He stressed the need for lawmakers to continue to work hard to earn the trust of the people by promoting greater citizen engagement in the legislative processes.
“I hope that the knowledge you gain in this retreat will improve the work you do in your respective committees, promote citizen engagement and improve public trust in the legislature.
Speaking on the retreat, Senator Anyanwu said that the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee had received 525 petitions from individuals and corporate bodies since the inception of the 8th Assembly.
“We received 152 petitions in the first session and when Nigerians noticed that one can access justice through the committee, the number of petitions multiplied such that we received 284 in the second session.
“In this fresh 3rd session, we have received about 88 petitions. Not less than 92 individuals and corporate bodies have had justice procured for them without spending their personal earnings.
“This is in comparison to only six petitions laid in the 7th Assembly out of 77 petitions it received,’’ Anyanwu said.
In her welcome address, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, the Director- General of the National Institute for Legislative Studies and host of the Retreat NILS, said that the capacity building programme would be integral to ensuring the success of the role of the committee.