National Conference Delegates to Delete Immunity Clause
The Delegates at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja are said to be inclined to the removal of the Immunity Clause from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution prevents elected governors and politicians from being prosecuted or arrested even if they commit an offence while in office.
The section of the Federal Constitution particularly refers to sitting President and Governors. It bars the judiciary and anti-corruption agencies from prosecuting and passing judgment against those whom it protects. However delegates are said to be working in tandem to ensure that the clause is struck out of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
A delegate representing the Civil Society Organizations, Auwal Rafsanjani has requested that the section be removes saying it was only in place to shield corrupt public officials. In his words: “It is so bad that the people who enjoy this immunity evade justice even after their tenure because of our weak and corrupt institutions’, he lamented.
“You can get away with acts of corruption especially if you are a member of the ruling party. In other words, immunity has served as an incentive for those who want to loot.
“The only reason some people are requesting that immunity be retained is to protect public office holders from being distracted. But anybody taking up public office must realize that if they do anything wrong, they must face the music”, he said.
Conversely, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, delegate representing Kano State, said he would vote for the retention of the Immunity Clause for the President and his vice.
He said, “I expressed the position of Kano State on the issue in the last exercise which is that immunity should be confined to the sovereign who should be the President and the Vice- President.”
Secretary General of the Middle Belt Forum, Mr. John Dara, said, “The President should still enjoy full immunity, while governors should be given partial immunity.
“An American governor was caught saying on telephone that he would sell a vacant senatorial seat. He was indicted and impeached. Governors should be protected from civil litigations (and) not from criminal offences which include corruption offences”, he opined.
The spokesman of Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba organization, Yinka Odumakin said, “I back the removal of Immunity Clause because when you have a presidential system of government and you have Immunity Clause, you are building a monarchy.
“To that extent, immunity mandates corruption. For civil offences, immunity can stay; but for criminal offences, immunity must go.
“To tackle corruption in this country, you have to change the Constitution. When you concentrate power in the centre, it brings two things–corruption and inefficiency. The structure we run presently encourages and mandates corruption. Until we change that, we cannot move forward,’’ he said.