Immunity for Senate President, Speakers, others divides Reps

The rank of elected officials enjoying immunity from prosecution will soon be swelled by the legislature as the House of Representatives has endorsed the provision for the presiding officers of the National Assembly and States’ Houses of Assembly.

In the bill seeking to review the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to provide immunity for the presiding officers of the National Assembly and their state counterparts, the Lower House named the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives as well as the Deputy Speaker as the beneficiaries. Others are the Speakers of States’ Houses of Assembly and their deputies.

The 1999 Constitution (as amended) only provides for immunity for the president, vice president, governors and their deputies. Immunity

But the sponsor of the bill, Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun, in his lead debate when it was read for the second time, yesterday, argued that the proposed amendment was intended to provide protection for the legislature from distraction caused by unnecessary legal actions against the presiding officers. Immunity

He found an ally in the House leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, who declared that the proposed law would help the legislative chamber to carry out its functions unhindered. He 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.” Similarly, the House deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, argued that the bill would guard against the compromise of the legislative arm. ”We are all witnesses to how the presiding officers were subjected to trial. We should avoid such from happening again,” he said. Immunity

Also speaking in favour of the bill, Hon. Nkem Abonta, noted that the prosecution of a presiding officer could affect the performance of the chamber. Immunity

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