A lot of Nigerians are kicking against the National Assembly’s proposal for immunity for the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
During a retreat on constitution review organised by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review in Lagos on Saturday, immunity and life pension for the presiding officers were proposed.
Among others, the proposals want presiding officers, such as President of the Senate, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives to enjoy life pension and immunity, since the executive and judiciary were enjoying it.
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said:
“It is uncalled for; it is a sign of impunity that the legislature will be asking for immunity at this point in time when in actual fact, we are asking for removal of the clause for governors. Immunity makes people feel above the law, so rather than have immunity for the legislature, we should remove that for the governors. Immunity has bred impunity in our system. It is absurd for such calls and it is uncalled for.”
In a statement by its Executive Director, Tokunbo Mumuni, SERAP said:
“Granting senators and representatives immunity and life pensions would neither enhance governance accountability nor contribute to the betterment of Nigerians.”
“SERAP calls on the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara to show leadership and refocus the National Assembly to be able to perform their law-making functions in a manner that will rid the country of impunity for corruption and not embrace or tolerate it. Nigerians will reject any self-serving attempt by the senators and representatives to tear up section 308 of the 1999 constitution to grant their leaders immunity from prosecution for corruption and money laundering. Life pension proposals ”
Austin Opara, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives:
“Why should the National Assembly consider such bill now? It is not a priority for us as a nation. Even the immunity for the President, which is in the constitution, should be expunged to enable people pay for their deeds in office. National Assembly should be responsible and responsive to the electorate rather than coming up with the issue of immunity.”
Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria:
“The proposals for immunity and life pension for the principal officers of the National Assembly are insensitive, irrational and immoral.”
“Indeed, it is the height of insensitivity for legislators to propose life pension for their leaders at a time that workers are owed arrears of salaries in many states of the federation.”
“The proposal to confer immunity on legislators is provocative, to say the least. No serious nation can grant immunity to legislators who have been linked with criminal diversion of public funds, forgery and rape.”
“We can assure the concerned members of the public that the satanic proposals of the legislators will not succeed. It is pertinent to inform the legislators that the members of the human rights community have resolved to mobilise the Nigerian people to reject both proposals.”