Lawyers kick as Senate mulls bill to ban generating sets
Some legal practitioners, including those in active politics, have disagreed with legislators in the upper chamber of the National Assembly over the proposed bill to prosecute persons who import, sell and use generating sets in the country.
The lawyers, including Ola Wilson, Ramon Oshodi, Babatunde Oshilaja, Owolabi Salis, Dr. Femi Aborisade and Smart Olatunji, said there was no logic in the bill tagged “A Bill for an Act to prohibit/ban importation/use of generating sets” sponsored by a representative of Niger South Senatorial District, Bima Muhammad Enagi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), when the country is yet to provide the alternative power source.
Although some argued that such a punitive measure, if it would apply equitably to all Nigerians irrespective of their social status, would yield results, otherwise said it would, however, lead to the more serious economic crisis.
According to Wilson, “this bill is a welcome idea, provided the government is ready to tackle our power sector problems, otherwise, it would be a Herculean task monitoring those that would breach the law.
But Oshodi said that everyone has the right to own moveable and immovable property under Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution, saying: “It is arguable that any law that seeks to criminalise ownership of property (not illegal) may be viewed as trampling on the people’s freedom.”
Oshilaja said that the bill was at best a very poor low mentality legislative effort intended to serve only cheap political meaningless point at a time of over-population of our prison (correctional centres).
While he did not condemn the bill in totality, Salis said though it had a good intention of promoting the power sector by targeting the mafia, it cannot work when it comes to individuals.
He said: “There are people who genuinely have a need for power but the government has failed them and therefore they resort to using generators. For those individuals, you can’t blame them.”
Human Rights lawyer, Aborisade, said: “To say the least, the bill is ridiculous as it is impracticable to implement without sending millions of people, perhaps 99 per cent of Nigerians, including the sponsors of the bill, to jail in the event of its being passed and enacted into law.”
He said the solution to getting rid of generating sets is to provide public electricity rather than the individuals generating electricity in a chaotic and environmentally injurious manner.
“Individuals who resort to generating sets are not happy doing so. It is the last resort. The bill does not make sense to me at all, to say the least,” he added.
Olatunji on his part said the bill was political in nature, saying: “The prorogation of that law cannot stand the test of time. You want to take away food from the sellers of generators, knowing fully well that you can’t give us electricity.”