A bill that sought speech immunity for members of the National Assembly while speaking on the floor of the two chambers has been passed by the House of Representatives and the House has referred the bill to its ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review for further legislative input.
Co-sponsored by the duo of Honourable Ali Ahmed and Honourable Raphael Igbokwue, the bill, entitled, “A Bill to Guarantee Freedom of Speech and Legislative actions of Members of the National Assembly,” sought to protect actions of the lawmakers while in the chamber.
Honourable Ahmed, while leading debate on the general principle of the bill, said it was aimed at protecting members from being held responsible for their comments while at the hallowed chambers. He maintained that though the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act made provisions for certain level of immunity from civil and, or criminal proceedings against lawmakers in the course of doing their duties.
The lawmaker also noted that the bill, if passed, would guarantee freedom of speech for lawmakers on debates and proceedings in both chambers. Also supporting the bill, Honourable Zakari Mohammed said about 10 nations around the world currently enjoyed similar constitutional protection and listed such countries as Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States, Malaysia, Indonesia among others. When the bill was eventually put to vote by the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Emeka Ihedioha, who presided over the session, it was unanimously supported by members.