Immunity Clause: Group Opposes Consideration For NASS Leadership

Immunity Clause: Group Opposes Consideration For NASS Leadership

Patrick Aigbokhan
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, a civil society organisation, has frowned against the National Assembly’s proposed immunity clause for its leadership.
I a statement on Thursday by the group, it explained that by contemplating immunity clause for the Senate President and others at this time, the lawmakers were simply being lawless.
Reacting to the recent reported disclosure by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Leo Ogor, the group said that the lawmakers were contemplating a constitutional amendment to include a clause that will shield its leadership from criminal prosecution.
Those to enjoy the proposed immunity include the Senate President, his deputy, the Speaker, House of Representatives, his deputy and the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
Adetokunbo Mumuni, Executive Director, SERAP stressed the need for the National Assembly to immediately halt the process, noting that it would be a huge setback in the ongoing campaign for accountability and transparency in governance.
SERAP also accused the proponents of the immunity clause of abusing power and embarking on political corruption, adding that they were doing so in breach of public trust.
The statement read in part, “SERAP notes that this initiative by the leaders of the National Assembly is coming at a time countries like Guatemala has voted unanimously to strip their president of immunity from prosecution for corruption.
“It is a huge setback for transparency and accountability and the rule of law that the same privileged and powerful leaders of parliament that regularly make laws that consign ordinary, powerless Nigerians to prison for even trivial offences, yet again want to establish elite immunity to protect themselves from any consequences for serious crimes of corruption and money laundering: that is the Nigerian justice system in a nutshell. This is called breaking the law.
“The message the leadership of the National Assembly is sending to us is clear: in Nigeria, powerful and influential actors must not be and are not subject to the rule of law.
“It’s simply not proper for lawmakers to be the chief advocates of immunity for corruption. It’s a clear breach of public trust and a form of political corruption for the parliamentarians to abuse their legislative powers intended for use in the general public interest but instead for personal advantage.
“This is an unacceptable proposition as it gives the impression that both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and others are above the law.
The group however assured that it would work with other members of the civil society to “vigorously challenge this gift of immunity against corruption and blatant breach of public trust by the National Assembly.”