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Published On: Thu, Feb 7th, 2013

Ewherido’s Bill on Corporate Manslaughter Passes Senate Second Reading after Intense Debate

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Senator Pius Ewherido

Bill sponsored by Senator Pius Akpor Ewherido representing Delta Central Federal Senatorial District of Delta State scaled through its second reading yesterday in the Senate after intense debate by members of the House of Senate.
In part, the Bill if passed into law will create a new offence that is to be called corporate manslaughter and to make provision in connection with that offence. The Bill makes provision for a new offence of corporate manslaughter and for this to apply to companies and other incorporated bodies, Government departments and similar bodies and police forces.

While presenting the Bill, Senator Ewherido Senator Ewherido however called for quick passage and eventual presidential assent of the Bill in the “earliest possible time”.
In his argument against the passage of the bill, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the bill was too futuristic and therefore cannot work now in Nigeria but only in advanced countries like UK and US.
Meanwhile, Senator Ngamiwho who spoke in favour of the bill said the bill was only seeking to amend the criminal and penal code of the country and as such should be withdrawn and re-presented as by way of amendment.
Though Senator Heineken Lokpobiri and Paulinus Igwe did not oppose the bill, but said if things should be put in proper perspective or if there is a lacuna in the law it should be brought under amendment of section 316 and 317 of the constitution.
However, Senator Babajide reminded his colleague that there is no perfect bill and that the debate should be on the merit and demerit of the bill. He did not agree with those
who think that the bill should be dropped because Nigerian economy is not too advanced to accommodate such bill or that it is too futuristic. He cited the passage of the same sex law and
the law on terrorism passed by the National Assembly when the country has not started experiencing same sex marriage or terrorism.
Babajide is of the view that corporate organizations that do not live up to its social responsibilities will be convicted under the law when passed. Because some of our criminal laws are century old and do not envisage the present realities, he called on members to be proactive and energize the system by supporting the bill and allowing it to scale through second reading.
Senator Magnus Abbey disagree with his colleague who think that the bill is futuristic, according to him the bill is relevant for today and for the future and a bill like this will send a clear message to the corporate bodies.
Concluding the debate the Senate Leader, Ndoma Egba pointed out that the bill is going to be legally and intellectually challenging and its implication is going to be far reaching, affecting company law, criminal law, and law of thoughts. He suggested that a public hearing be held to get input from legal luminaries and the public.
The bill passed the second reading and was referred to the Senate committee on Judiciary and Human Right.

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