The house of representatives will suspend plenary and shut down on Tuesday over the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to shut down the lower legislative chamber was taken at the weekend to curb the spread of the infection.
Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker, however, announced it to the lawmakers during a virtual meeting on Monday. TheCable reports that although the lower legislative chamber was to proceed on Easter break on Thursday, insiders disclsoed that the house leadership does not want to take any chances that would expose the lawmakers to the risk of the virus.
Seven out of the 40 patients that contracted COVID-19 in Nigeria as of Monday night are in Abuja where the National Assembly complex is located. In addition to the 360 lawmakers in the green chamber, and 109 in the senate, the legislative complex receives an average of 3,500 visitors every week.
Gbajabiamila told the lawmakers that the house will conclude Tuesday’s plenary session by 12:30pm, much earlier than the usual time, after which their operations will be suspended.
He said the session is to enable the lawmakers to debate on a bill entitled the ‘Emergency economic stimulus bill’ (EESB) which he said will be the only agenda on Tuesday, and will also be passed before the adjournment.
“The decision was already made over the weekend to shut down the house,” Gbajabiamila said. “Though the house will be closing tomorrow, I will implore all members to be present on the floor for the passage of a bill titled Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill which the leadership of the House has been working on all weekend and concluded this night.
“The EESB will be the only item on the order paper tomorrow as we intend to conclude sitting by 12.30. We will suspend our rules and will take the 1st 2nd and 3rd readings of the Bill and send immediately to the senate for concurrence.
“I believe if we are able to do this tomorrow, we would be able to close the house knowing we did not leave Nigerians in a lurch. All other details will be given during my address tomorrow.”
The house last week said it was not considering suspending its plenary sessions, but the coronavirus cases in Nigeria as of the time were 12, with none in Abuja. While the federal capital territory (FCT) authorities banned large gatherings, the federal government already directed most civil servants to work from home to curtail the spread of the disease.
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