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Bill against president, governors immunity suffers setback in the Senate

Posted: 05 January, 2017 at 09:46 am

Guardian has it that an attempt to lift the immunity against prosecution being enjoyed by the president, vice president, state governors and their deputies have been suspended.

The bill suffered the setback because it was introduced to the Senate after the constitution review committee had submitted a report on the key amendments to be effected in the life of the Eighth National Assembly.

The bill was said to be sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (labour party)Bill against president, governors immunity suffers setback in the Senate

It is reported that the Senate has suspended the consideration of the bill which sought to amend Section 308 (2) of the 1999 Constitution to allow for the prosecution of the affected leaders on matters relating to economic and financial crimes even when in office.

An unnamed senator quoted in the report said: “What I know is that the National Assembly leadership is very interested in having all issues relating to constitutional amendments sorted out and concluded very early in 2017.

“So, I think the timing of the bill is somehow a problem because even the committee on constitution review had brought serious update on the work it is doing to the Senate before this bill was introduced by Omo-Agege.

“That is why I cannot agree with the rumour that governors are lobbying against it even though lobbying is democratic and normal.

“Don't forget that even if the two chambers of the National Assembly effect such amendment, it will still have to be approved by at least 24 of the 36 state houses of assembly before it becomes valid.”

Specifically, Omo-Agege's bill had stated that the immunity granted to the president, governors and their deputies in section 308 (1) of the constitution would no longer apply to criminal proceedings arising from allegations of financial crimes against them. Section 308 (1) of the current constitution which gave immunity to the affected leaders reads: “No civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office; “a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise; and “no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued.” The standing rule of the Senate stipulates that any bill that could not be passed within the tenure of a particular Senate automatically dies and cannot be continued in the tenure of the next Senate except it is sponsored afresh.

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