The power or right of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to exercise its authority over person(s), subject matter or territory is derived from the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Section 88(1) of the Constitution provides that each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into :(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and (b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged, or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsibility of :(i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and (ii) disbursing or administering of monies appropriated by the National Assembly. Any Committee including the Senate Committee on Public Petitions can be mandated to investigate such matters; as it deems necessary.
On the strength of the above provision of the Constitution, Order 97 (4) (a)(b) and (c) of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 (as amended) provide that the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions has jurisdiction to consider the subject matter of all petitions referred to it by the Senate, recommend from time to time such administrative action as it may deem appropriate to establish and enforce standards of official conduct for the Senate and oversee and monitor the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The Committee is generally mandated to investigate petitions from Nigerians (Private and Corporate) on any issue or matter especially the conduct of affairs of government agencies. In cases where the Committee has no jurisdiction, such as contractual issues between two private citizens, the Committee is expected to dismiss the petition or make recommendations for its referral to an appropriate body with the approval of the Senate.