The bill which seek to empower all the security agencies to prosecute criminal cases has scaled through third reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The bill seen by BusinessDay also provides that a prosecution of an offence shall be concluded and judgement delivered within 90 working days of its commencement except that the jurisdiction of the court to continue to hear and determine the case shall not be affected where good grounds exist for a delay.
This was stipulated in section 23(1) of the bill for an Act to provide for the protection of the identity of National Security agencies officers, Agents, sources, informants and operational methods from unlawful disclosure and to protect its establishments, facilities and equipment against unauthorized access as well as provide for the promotion and enhancement of Nigeria’s external security and for other related matters, adopted by the House.
Section 23(2) provides that the prosecutor may apply to the court that part of the entire proceedings be done in camera when need arises.
Section 24 of the bill also empowers Federal High Court in Nigeria to try an offence committed outside Nigeria by a Nigerian citizen.
Section 26 of the bill also provides that any person appointed or promoted as an officer of the agency, dhal forthwith take and subscribe to the agency oath of secrecy and the oath of allegiance.
To prohibit breach of the provision, a five year imprisonment was proposed for any serving or retired officer who breaches or violate any provisions of the oaths, having subscribed to the agency oath of secrecy and oath of allegiance.
All government contractors and consultants including retired agency officer who are not public officers but engaged or who provides any services to government prohibited from divulging information, document or other article in their possession, originating from or given to the agency, as provided for in section 3 of the bill.
According to the bill, anyone found guilty of an office and punishable with a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years if without lawful authority, he/she discloses any official information, document, material or other articles which can be used for the purpose of obtaining access to any information, documents, article, facility or installation protected against disclosure.
Section 21 of the bill also provides, “officers of the agency shall be issued with such firearms and ammunition and such other weapons of offence or defence for use within Nigeria and in Nigerian diplomatic missions abroad as may be authorized by Mr President, acting with the advice of the National Security Adviser (NSA).