President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his displeasure with some provisions of the five bills sent to him by the National Assembly thereby prompting him to decline to assent to the bills.
The President made this known in a compilation of letters sent to the National Assembly and read by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki during plenary session.
According to the letter, President Buhari raised concerns on the bills which prompted him to refuse to sign them into law and they include Digital Rights and Freedom bill, Nigerian Film Commission bill, Immigration Amendment bill, Climate Change bill and Chartered Institute of Pension Practitioners bill.
Mr President explained that he declined to assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom bill because, “it seeks to cover too many technical subjects and fails to address any of them extensively, these areas include surveillance and digital protection, lawful interception of communication, digital protection and retention etc which are currently the subject of various bills pending at the national assembly”.
“It is therefore suggested that the scope of the bill should be limited to the protection of human rights within the digital environment to reduce the challenge of duplication and legislative conflict in the future”, he further explained.
However, for not signing the Nigerian Film Commission bill, Mr President noted that, “Section 1 (k) of the bill states that 1% of the proceeds for the television license for the national broadcasting commission shall be paid into a fund to be controlled by the national film commission which is conflict with section 16 (1) of the national broadcasting commission act which stipulates the purpose for which expenditure to be generated by NBC may be used”.
President Buhari further noted that, “Section 7 (2) (d) of the bill proposed 5% VAT on all film-related activities to the national film development fund violates section 40 of the Valued Added Tax and ensuring formula described therein because it averts funds normally distributed to states of the federation.”
Mr President also explained his reasons for denying assent to the Immigration Amendment Bill, he said that, “due to the concerns expressed to the retroactive effect of the provisions of 38 (5) of the bill and the impact of the section on the ease of doing business initiative of the federal government, there are also concerns that if passed, the bill will be destructive to Nigerians in diaspora if other countries were to reciprocate the provisions of section 38 (5) in their immigration laws”.
President Buhari also said that the climate change bill was also not signed because, “the scope and guiding principle of the bill replicated the functions of the Federal Ministry of Environment which is charged with mainstreaming climate responses and actions into government polices but does not suggest the scrapping of the ministry”.
“Setting up a council as suggested by Section 2 of the bill is expensive to maintain as it amounts to the proliferation of government agencies especially when there are existing agencies already performing the proposed functions”, he further explained.
Finally, Mr President said he declined to assent to the Chartered Institute of Pension Practitioners bill because, “the objectives of the Chartered Institute of Pension Practitioners created by the bill are similar to the objectives of the Signified Pension Institute of Nigeria which is already in existence and functional and this will amount to duplication of the functions of a separately constituted institute”.
“Concerns have also been raised in connection with the propriety of the private investigate panel in conducting a criminal investigation as suggested by section 8 (1) of the bill”, he further revealed.