Two bills sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Industries and the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District. Distinguished Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru, FCA - The Federal High Court Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and The Franchise Regulation Bill, 2022 were among seven bills that the Senate Committee on Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central) considered at a public hearing on Wednesday. The President of the Senate, His Excellency, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who was represented by the acting Senate Leader, Senator Ajayi Borrofice (Ondo North) declared the hearing open. Senator Bamidele in his welcome address, appreciated all invited stakeholders who turned up for the event urging them to make necessary inputs into the bills so that the nation's body of law is enriched with the bills which are all high impact legislations. Senator Abiru, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Industries while presenting a synopsis of the two that he sponsored, pointed out that the bill that seeks to amend the Federal High Court Act to address the obvious shortcomings inherent in the Principal Act to make provisions for the regulation of the award of pre-judgment interest to ensure the attainment of substantial justice, particularly in relation to claims bothering on commercial transactions. He said that in commercial claims, particularly the ones for recovery of debts, the claimant should ordinarily be entitled to prejudgment interest on the principal debt sum should he succeed in his claim. However, entitlement to such a pre-judgment interest is not as easy as it seems, at least as far as the numerous decisions of our appellate courts are concerned. “Presently in Nigeria, there is no statutory law which regulates the award of pre-judgment interest. Nigerian courts up till date still have recourse to the English common law practice as a guide in their award of pre-judgment interest. “A legislation and legal framework is desirable to deal with the glaring shortcomings in the law and practice on award of pre-judgment interest and this is the reason he came up with the bill”, Abiru, a retired bank Chief Executive said at the hearing. On the Franchise Regulation Bill 2022, Senator Abiru stated that the bill seeks to create a framework for the regulation of franchising and to guide the relationship between franchisors and franchisees and for matters connected therewith. He stated further that, “Franchising is a well-utilized model used for business expansion by both multinationals and local businesses. With the growth of consumerism, markets for goods and services are becoming increasingly globalised. Franchising provides a means of expanding the reach of a business into new territories and new markets in a lower risk model than traditional company owned expansion. Franchising in Nigeria has evolved over the years from not being properly utilised and understood to now being employed across various sectors. “However, as of today, there is no single statute that regulates franchising or guides the relationship between franchisors and franchisees. Since there are no laws the basic principles of contracts and intellectual property law are applied to franchises in Nigeria especially in the event of a dispute”. “He encouraged the stakeholders who have more specialized information and experience in this sector, to avail the Committee with the benefit of their expert position, views and inputs so that a robust legal framework is put in place to regulate this very important emerging business strategy”. All the stakeholders supported all the bills that were under consideration and urged the Committee to expedite action on the passage of the bills. In particular, The Minister of Justice, Nigerian Navy, The Law Reform Commission, International Franchise Association, National Human Rights Commission, Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission, Nigerian Bar Association, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) commended Senator Abiru for coming up with The Federal High Court Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021 And The Franchise Regulation Bill, 2022 and urged the National Assembly to expedite action and the passage of the bills. Other distinguished Senators who were present include; Frank Ibezim(Imo North), Ibrahim Oloriegbe (Kwara Central), James Manager (Delta South) and Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia (Jigawa North East). Stakeholders and representatives of the Nigerian Navy, Correctional Services, ICPC, Nigerian Army, Ministry of Women Affairs, Centre for Socio legal studies among others were also present.
The other bills that came up for hearing are: Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2022 (SB.920); Firearms Act No. 32 1959 Cap F28 LFN, 2004 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2022 (Sb. 889); Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 (Repeal and Enactment) Bill, 2022 (SB.926); African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (Domestication and Enforcement) Bill, 2021 (SB.763) and Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act, 2017 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB.748) (Joint Referral with the Senate Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary).