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CRS House of Assembly under Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams.

Cross River State House of Assembly under Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams.

THIRD-YEAR STEWARDSHIP OF THE 9TH ASSEMBLY UNDER RT. HON. ETENG JONAH WILLIAMS, MAKING HISTORY TOGETHER

The third legislative year of the 9th Cross River State House of Assembly ended last month, 11th June 2022, and despite the challenges of the new normal brought about by Covid-19, in the Third Session, the Cross River State House of Assembly was able to make remarkable progress in carrying out its constitutional legislative duties of lawmaking, representation and oversight functions without let or hindrance. This commitment was exemplified through robust legislative debates, quality of bills passed, motions, and resolutions were taken that have placed the House first among equals in the Legislative business in Nigeria.

In the year under review, the House has passed a total of 9 bills into law, 1 motion taken, 2 confirmation of appointment, 2 Matters of urgent public interest, and 82 Resolutions.

Highlights of some landmark bills include:

Cross River State Legislative Fund Management Bill 2021 & Cross River State Judiciary Fund Management Bill 2021:

The quest for autonomy for the Legislature and Judiciary as provided by the Constitution was given a boost with the passage of the landmark legislative law, providing for the management of funds accruing to the two arms of government.

Similarly, the speedy assent of these bills has put an end to the long-awaited financial autonomy for the state legislators. What is now left is to draw a framework and modalities for the implementation.

Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill 2021:

It will be recalled that in the year under review, the Cross River State House of Assembly joined 18 other states in the country to pass the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill 2021.

The bill has so far been domesticated in the state with an executive assent and is now a law.

The VAPP law seeks to eliminate all forms of societal ills which expose citizens to violence either in marriage, peer group, association, sexual relationship, girl child upbringing, early and forceful marriage, female genital mutilation, discrimination against persons in terms of age disability, religion, health status, and gender.

The law also provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders and other matters connected therewith.

CRS Disability Affairs Commission Bill 2021:

The House in partnership with key civic space actors including Projects Alert, and Basic Rights Counsel Initiative with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) passed the bill that will criminalize discrimination against persons with disabilities such that corporate bodies and individuals will face sanctions if convicted of the offense.

It was intended to provide for the full integration of persons with disabilities into the socio-political and economic spectrum of society as it seeks to increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities across community life, including employment, transportation, healthcare services, public accommodation, Communication and access to State and Local Government programs and services.

This law will also encourage persons with disabilities to be actively involved in the political process and governance in Society.

Cross River State Livestock and Grazing Management Bill 2021:

This bill on open grazing passed by the House significantly differs from what most states have done, instead of the outright ban on grazing, the law has made containment and control measures to define the beacons of range through which any form of ranching can be done.

The law provides penalties for straying cattle as well as cattle rustling. Anybody who steals a cattle belonging to a herdsman, there is a penalty provided in the law. Any herdsman who allows his cattle to stray out of the ranch, there is a penalty. So with this law, they have protected the farmers and they have protected the herders too.

CRS Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022:

The bill will serve as a watchdog on public and civil servants in the state, including contractors or organisations that may indulge in corrupt practices.

The commission when fully established shall have the powers to investigate and prosecute anybody or organisation following complaints lodged before it.

Cross River State House of Assembly Service Commission 2020:

One of the landmark achievements recorded in this third legislative session is the signing into law of the Assembly Service Commission, You will recall that the struggle to have this law in place in previous assemblies was hectic and seemingly impossible.

With the recent confirmation of the appointment of the Chairman and members of the commission, they will now ensure that the appointment, promotion, and discipline of legislative staff will be enhanced.

Motion Taken:
A motion calling on the management of Power Holding Company Limited (PHCN) Cross River State Branch, to stop serving 50% instead 100% units of electricity to consumers and stop arbitrary increases of billing and others.

These legislative heights and glory attained are more or less anchored on the leadership of Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams as Speaker.

He has shown tact and depth in his ability to galvanize the house as one family, irrespective of political affiliation otherwise the political skirmishes in the last months would have snowballed into a very unhealthy situation as is being reported in some sister states in the federation. It takes a leader with perseverance, doggedness, and tenacity of purpose in handling these issues with maturity.

As the House begins its final legislative year with the political activities already in top gear ahead of the 2023 general election, this third anniversary is historic as this will be the first time in the history of the State a Speaker of the House is at the same time a Senatorial Candidate, and the Deputy Speaker a Federal House of Representative Candidate, indeed Together they have made history for themselves.

Hope Obeten is the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly.

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