Lawmaker Defends Reps’ Request for Speech Immunity

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nassA member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Zakari Mohammed, has cleared the air on immunity being canvassed for legislators in the country, saying it is not a blanket immunity but against speeches made on the floor of the House.

Honourable Mohammed, representing Baruten/Kaiama constituency, made this known while speaking with journalists after delivering a paper, entitled: “Visionary Leadership for Nigeria: Fastening The Seatbelt From School,” at a seminar organised by Political Science students, University of Ilorin, at the weekend.

Honourable Mohammed, who is also the chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said some countries were using speeches made by legislators in hallowed chamber against them in courts of law. According to him, some legislators in Malawi were undergoing treason(able) trial on what was said on the floor of the House: “we cannot wait until what is happening there gets here,” he said.

“I think people are getting it very wrong. We are talking about speech immunity on the floor of the House. As legislators, we have speech immunity and it is to be protected on what we say on the floor of the House and not to be taken to court on what we say. But in a situation where that does not exist…We are not looking for a blanket immunity being enjoyed by governors or president. No. What we are saying is that as regards immunity, legislators can be free to discuss and argue matters well.

“For instance, there’s a court judgment that says court can assume jurisdiction on what is said on the floor of the House. For example, if someone takes me to court on what a journalist reported that I said in the hallowed chamber, accusing that it is treasonable, you as a reporter will be sued alongside me.

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