Yesterday, our editors went digging to uncover the facts about the trending topic of the week on Nigerian social media – the new ‘Sharia Expansion Bill’ – being considered at the House of Representatives.
The Trent obtained a notice paper issued at the House of Representatives which revealed that indeed there was a bill being considered in the National Assembly. We did we what a responsible newspaper meant to do, we published it to alert Nigerians that what had been termed “a rumour” was real and the bill was marked for second reading at the House on March 12, 2016.
We also send a message to the office of the speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara asking him to explain what this bill is about. As our story went viral, Nigerians also began mounting pressure on the House of Representatives to explain the bill and the purpose.
We just received a statement from the House of Representatives from the office of the speaker. It attempts to assure concerned Nigerians, especially Christians that that bill is far being becoming law.
It also says that the bill has been referred to an ad-hoc committee made up of one member from each state of the federation, women, and other representations.
“Any bill that has potentials to divide the country on religious or tribal lines or to reopen settled constitutional issues will most likely fail in the committee,” the statement signed by Jonathan Gbefwi, the deputy chairman of the House’s committee on media and publicity.
Read the entire statement below which was delivered to The Trent on Thursday, May 26, 2016.
The bill came up on the floor and was automatically referred to the adhoc committee on constitution review. There was no debate on it either for or against because the House is a democratic representative chamber of the Nigerian people. Even if five people only have an issue with any section of the constitution, the House will give it a listening ear.
The adhoc committee on constitution review has one member per state and women and other representation. The precedence is that it is in this committee that these kinds of matters are thrashed out. Any bill that has potentials to divide the country on religious or tribal lines or to reopen settled constitutional issues will most likely fail in the committee.
It should be noted that constitutional review bills are special bills that under go many stages unlike an ordinary bill. These include committee stage, plenary stage for voting by 2/3rd of the House, 2/3rds of all the state houses of assembly before it comes back again to the National Assembly for voting again and finally it must receive presidential assent.
We are still at a very early stage in the process and Nigerians should not worry about bills of these nature as the House has shown over the years to be the protector of Nigerians’ national unity and interest.
Hon. Jonathan Gaza Gbefwi
House Committee on Media and Publicity
Thursday, May 26, 2016