By Jacob Segun Olatunji and Kehinde Akintola
The House of Representatives is anticipated to start debate on the overall precept of a invoice that seeks to take away all types of immunity clauses conferred on the President, Vice President, State Governors and Deputy Governors within the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The non-public member invoice which handed by means of First studying on the ground of the House, was sponsored by the fast previous Chairman, House Committee on Army, Hon. Rimamnde Shawulu Kwewum and seeks to amend part 308 of the Principal Act.
He maintained that the modification being proposed won’t pre-dispose President, Vice President in addition to Governors and Executives to distraction as these are explicitly prohibited.
The lawmaker who argued that such immunity exists solely in nations with weak democratic buildings stressing that immunity for Executives has stunted our growth and engendered democracy, therefore “eradicating the blanket immunity clause would improve accountability and open up the creativity of Nigerian folks.”
While citing the provisions in different jurisdictions, he noticed that “there’s absolute immunity from civil litigation for official acts undertaken” within the United States of America.
“The Supreme Court within the US held that the President doesn’t possess absolute immunity from civil litigation surrounding acts he took earlier than turning into the president. In 2020, the Supreme Court held that the president is topic to subpoenas in felony prosecutions for private conduct,” he famous.
According to him, within the United Kingdom, immunity from felony prosecution shouldn’t be loved by members of parliament. Parliamentary immunity (parliamentary privileges) are allowed. No prosecution for what’s disclosed in Parliamentary debates and processes.
He additional noticed that in France, solely Parliamentary privileges/immunity are allowed. In Germany, there’s solely parliamentary privileges/immunity however parliament can vote to elevate the immunity for particular members and permit prosecution of the President.
In Chile, there’s Parliamentary immunity. No immunity for serving Presidents. Prosecutions can start instantly after leaving workplace.
In Cote d’Ivoire, President is responsible for acts executed within the train of his workplace, could be prosecuted for prime treason; in Fiji Island, there’s full unconditional immunity for President, Prime Minister, and so forth.; in Kazakhstan, there’s immunity for the President; in Lebanon, immunity whereas discharging capabilities of the workplace; within the neighbouring Niger Republic, immunity within the train of the perform of workplace; No immunity for prime treason; in Russia, inviolability of immunity for former and President whereas in Syria, immunity is granted besides treason.
According to the proponent of the invoice, the proposed modification seeks to “make the class of individuals named and /or referred to in subsection 3 of Section 308 of the Constitution turn out to be topic to authorized proceedings, whether or not civil or felony, throughout their interval of workplace, that’s, while holding such workplace.
Currently, Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives immunity for individuals holding the workplace of President or Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor underneath subsections (1)(a), (b) and (c); (2) and (3) thereof. In impact, by this Constitutional provision, the restriction is positioned on authorized proceedings for individuals holding these places of work underneath subsection (1) and (2) Section 308 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The modification proposed right here, nevertheless, seeks to restrict or take away such immunity, whether or not civil or felony, offered nevertheless that the motion and choices contemplated therein don’t relate to such points as corrupted 0 to the crime of homicide, treason, or every other private crimes dedicated by the workplace holder as a person while in or out of workplace.”
While calling for a paradigm shift with the view to outlaw the immunity clause, Hon. Shawulu argued that “Immunity for President and executives presumes that holders of the places of work essentially possess some type of divinity that immunes them from committing crimes and at all times act in accordance with the legislation and the Constitution.
“Do not have any curiosity or loyalties that go towards the state and its folks and re above the law-meaning that the legislation doesn’t apply to them. The above tenets don’t conform to democracy and the pure legislation of justice. Besides, deifying human beings these rules have protected heinous crimes towards the folks and the state.
“Increasingly, world wide, the principles of accountability and equality earlier than the legislation are being strengthened,” he noticed.
While frowning on the present provision which gives that such public workplace holders ought to ‘wait until after tenure’, the Taraba lawmaker
“Some well-meaning folks have argued that executives shouldn’t be distracted; and that, frivolous instances could also be introduced up towards such executives.
“The state of affairs of a number of instances can’t, nevertheless, stop the strengthening of our system and constitutional framework to extend the best good for the best variety of folks. Secondly, a chief executive-President or Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor who commits a felony offence has already distracted himself.
“Furthermore, such a felony motion itself disqualifies him from holding such a place and the actual fact that he’s suspected by legislation enforcement businesses and other people of getting dedicated such a felony offence diminishes him and the offence he’s occupying within the eyes of cheap folks.
“In addition, justice delayed is justice denied: assuming a President or Governor commits rape or homicide, what if, lack of fast prosecution results in his tampering with witnesses or proof?”
The invoice which is anticipated to be gazetted for Second Reading is to be referred to the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review for additional legislative motion.