Nigeria

Lawyers, others urge legislators to reconsider stance on immunity clause

Some Lawyers and residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have called on members of the National Assembly to reconsider their stance on the adoption of immunity clause for themselves.

They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews on Tuesday in Abuja that the immunity clause for federal legislators was unnecessary and undemocratic.

NAN reports that the two arms of the National Assembly had in July while reviewing some sections of the 1999 Constitution, voted to grant immunity clause to themselves.

Those who spoke with NAN said that the adoption of the immunity clause by the legislators was against popular opinion in the country.

A legal practitioner, Mrs Joy Onyekwuluje said that this was done at a time citizens were advocating for the removal of immunity clause on the president and governors.

“Therefore, providing immunity for the legislators is undemocratic and a way of hiding under the law to perpetrate crime.

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“It is unfortunate that such immunity clause is aimed at achieving personal interest; it cannot provide dividends of democratic to the people in the country.

“So I am not in support of immunity for federal lawmakers. They should reconsider their stance and do the needful for Nigerians to enjoy democracy,’’ Onyekwuluje said.

Another lawyer, Mr Tochukwu Nweke said the adoption of immunity clause for legislators was intentionally done to shield them from perceived criminality while in office.

According to Nweke, the adoption of the clause is also to protect them against any court action.

Nweke described the adoption as unjust, adding that it would not aid democratic process being practiced in the country.

“If the immunity has to do with the deliberation on the floors of the house, there is nothing wrong with that.

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“However, if it is to shield them from prosecution in the court of law then that is not right,’’ he said.

Mr George Halliday, a businessman also criticised the lawmakers for even contemplating adopting the bill.

According to Halliday, the policy will further promote and worsen corruption in the country.

”The immunity clause for the president can be understandable because of the image of the country before other nations.

”So, we believed that from a serving president and a vice president, nobody should commit crime and go scot free while in office.

”Anything internal like the actions of governors and National Assembly members that could question integrity should be treated without arousing international scandal by the court of law,” Halliday said.

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