Lawmakers move to extend immunity to Senate President, House Speaker

…SERAP condemns bill

A bill seeking to extend immunity to cover Presiding Officers of legislative institutions has scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill which was sponsored by Representative Odebunmi Olusegun was supported by the majority of the lawmakers who say it is important to safeguard the sanctity of the National Assembly.

In supporting the bill, Majority Leader, Ado-Doguwa said: “It should be passed for the simple reason that it provides protection for leaders of the legislature considering the important work of the legislature.”

However, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu asked the lawmakers to place the interest of their constituents above personal interest.

“Outside here, our people are being killed and butchered. We are coming up with a bill on the issue of immunity while some of us are saying that people should be held accountable for what they do. I think it is wrong and it should not be allowed.”

Some of the lawmakers who opposed the bill argued that it was coming at a time when there are calls for the withdrawal of immunity from the governors.

The lawmakers say there is no need for such a law, especially considering the spate of insecurity in the country.

If the bill eventually becomes a law, it will, therefore, translate into an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as immunity covers the President, Vice President, Governors and their Deputies.

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the passing of a bill seeking to give leaders of federal and state legislatures immunity from prosecution for corruption.

SERAP in a statement issued by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare on Tuesday, said the move is tantamount to ripping up the nation’s constitution.

The organization, therefore, called on the lower chamber to immediately withdraw the bill, vowing to challenge the decision.

“Providing immunity for presiding officers against crimes of corruption is tantamount to ripping up the constitution. It’s a blatant assault on the rule of law and breach of public trust.

“The leadership of the House of Representatives must immediately withdraw this obnoxious bill. We will vigorously challenge this impunity,” the statement read in part.

Speaking further, SERAP recalled that “countries like Guatemala has voted unanimously to strip their president of immunity from prosecution for corruption, our own lawmakers are moving in the opposite direction.”

The group warned that if the lawmakers have their way by passing the bill into law, they will succeed in denying Nigerians of their rights to make leaders accountable to the people.

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