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Journalists barred as senate resumes plenary in temporary Chamber

Journalists barred as senate resumes plenary in temporary Chamber

The upper chamber of the National As­sembly on Tuesday barred some jour­nalists from covering ple­nary at the resumption of legislative activities.

The plenary was held at the Hearing Room 022 that served as makeshift cham­ber.

The lawmakers, who resumed plenary after two months recess, were relocat­ed to a temporary venue due to the ongoing renovation of the main chamber.

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While the lawmakers have nine months to the end of their tenure, the renova­tion work of the chamber is expected to be completed in August 2023.

The journalists, who were at the National Assem­bly early, were barred from the makeshift chamber, ex­cept four cameramen and about six reporters.

The over 70 journalists, who also cover the Senate, were asked to rely on their colleagues, who were grant­ed access into the gallery for information on the proceed­ings.

Some members of the National Assembly, have, however, expressed con­cern, noting that the Hear­ing Room 022, which serves as makeshift, used to house more than 40 broadcast or­ganisations during public hearings and has now been trimmed to few media hous­es.

Appealing to journalists, Ola Awoniyi, the Media Aide to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, urged them to bear with the situation.

He explained that the de­cision to restrict access to the makeshift chamber was a result of space constraint, adding that the restriction would be temporary as the ICT and engineering services were working on sending feeds through the official television of the Na­tional Assembly (NASSTV) to the television in the me­dia centre.

The Senate at its plenary, during resumption, has list­ed areas of interest in the next three months.

The Senate, which has just nine months to com­plete its tenure, vowed to work with the Independent National Electoral Com­mission (INEC) to ensure successful, transparent and credible elections in 2023.

In his speech, the Presi­dent of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said, “In the next three months our focus will largely be on the confirma­tion of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, work on Medium Term Expenditure Frame­work/ Fiscal Strategic Pa­per (MTEF/FSP) 2023– 2025, budget 2023, working to sup­port our defence and secu­rity forces, amongst others.

“The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria will be screened tomorrow, Wednesday 21st September, 2022. Also, we are expecting Mr. President, Command­er-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to present the budget estimates in the first week of October.”

On the 2023 elections, Lawan said, “The National Assembly will work with Independent National Elec­toral Commission (INEC) to ensure very successful, transparent and credible elections. We are ready to support INEC in all possi­ble ways as a legislature. Already, the timely amend­ment of the Electoral Act 2022 has provided very important innovations in ensuring better electoral climate.”

Lawan, who agreed that the economy of the coun­try is still challenged, not­ed that the loss of revenue is threatening to throw the economy into a coma.

He said, “The massive loss of revenue through oil theft is debilitating and threaten­ing to throw the economy into a coma. Revelations about the scale of oil theft shows that, until govern­ment takes decisive actions, Nigeria could soon lose any revenue from that sector. We must therefore work to en­sure that everything is done to curtail this theft.

“Our focus must remain on ensuring a secured and safe country and an econ­omy that works for all citizens. In the next nine months, our attention and devotion should bring im­provement to the current situations.”

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