No Going Back On Speech Immunity For Lawmakers – Reps

houseofreps600Nigeria’s House of Representatives has insisted that “there is no going back” on its proposed legislation that will give lawmakers speech immunity despite criticisms that have trailed the bill and the Senate’s rejection of same.

House spokesman Zakari Mohammed and sponsors of the two bills in question, Representatives Ali Ahmad and Rapheal Nnanna Igbokwe in a press conference at the weekend said contrary to public opinion, the legislation was not a “self-serving” one.

The lawmakers while justifying the decision to insert the legislative immunity in the constitution said that a competent court in Nigeria had since 2007 nullified the provisions of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges Act of 1953.

They decried what they called “misconception that members were seeking blanket immunity that would keep them above the law,” saying the constitutional amendment bills were meant to confer  speech immunity to legislators at both state and federal level in accordance with global practice that lawmakers cannot be sued or arrested base on comments they make in the parliament.

“The immunity is only on spoken words in the parliament. Our rules which are also recognized by the constitution already censored the use of offensive language during debates,” Igbokwe said.