Bill Seeking to Amend PCC Act Scales Through Second Reading

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Bill Seeking to Amend PCC Act Scales Through Second Reading

A bill seeking to amend some aspects of the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) Act of 2004 has been read for a second time in the Upper Legislative Chamber of the National Assembly (Senate).

Leading the debate during Tuesday’s plenary, sponsor of the bill and Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East, Obong Bassey Albert, said the amended bill when passed into law will recalibrate the legal powers of the PCC, enhance its operational effectiveness and build public trust.

Senator Albert noted that the provisions of the Act as currently obtainable are no longer in tune with present economic realities, hence the need to review some sections of the Act to ensure compliance with the Commission’s recommendations by respondents, create the needed awareness and precision on the Commission’s functions, outline restrictions and the powers of the National Assembly.

He said the recent #ENDSARS experience has proven that there is need to guarantee unhindered access for the PCC to inquire and investigate complaints that concern the Nigeria Police Force, the Armed Forces Act or the Police Act, especially where it involves a non-member of the forces or a civilian in line with democratic norms.

According to him, the current Act, which dates back to 1975, provides for a fine of N500 or six months imprisonment, if an individual fails to honour the Commission’s invitation. The new proposal places a fine of five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) for individuals and five million naira (N5,000,000) for corporate bodies and or 7 years imprisonment, as punishment for refusing to honour the Commission’s summons.

“The extant Act puts the PCC at liberty to investigate and review administrative injustice even after the courts have given judgments (i.e. legal procedures have been exhausted), this is practically impossible. Where there is a court judgment (even from the lowest courts, like Magistrate Courts), no administrative panel or government commission, like the PCC, an attempt to revisit the same. This, apart from being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, obviously creates confusion on the relevance of the PCC which calls for a legislative amendment of the extant Act to address this ambiguity”, he explained.

The bill which was read for the first time in April 2020, was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges for further legislative action. The committee is expected to submit its report within four weeks.