Delegates of the ongoing National Conference have recently voted in favour to amending of the immunity clause as enshrined in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.
Currently, the President and state executives are immune from civil suits, criminal processes or indictment while in office.
If approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the protection would be limited only for civil cases.
It would seem that there is a simple and legitimate explanation behind the provision. The point of immunity is to enable the president and the Governors to perform their designated functions effectively without fear that a particular decision or action may give rise to criminal personal liability, as indicting or prosecuting a sitting President or governor would interfere with their ability to perform constitutionally assigned functions.
However, Nigerians have grown increasingly concern over misconduct of some officials and the fact that they often escape justice. The majority support the idea of subjecting government officials, including the top ones and the incumbent presidents, and their deputies, to trial for criminal offences. 225 of the country’s 360 federal constituencies voted for a partial removal of the immunity clause.
This is what Naij.com readers had to say on the issue:
Nduka Alex: Certainly, partial or complete removal of the immunity will boost transparency and help checkmate the officials, prompt them to operate judiciously and prudently.
Emeka Prince Elena Iwuoha: I don’t like that immunity on our Constitution. It gives them too much room to close up their loopholes and that is reason they get away after their tenure expires.
Attahigala Akogwu: What is immunity, by the way? Freedom from criminal punishment while one is still in office, is it not so? Governors Amaechi, Oshiomhole, Kwankwaso etc. were punished for supporting their party. Can anyone say these people are enjoying their immunity? As far as I’m concerned, immunity only covers GEJ and his cabinet, and also those that GEJ wants to extend it to, like Olusegun Mimiko, Willie Obiano and other PDP governors.
Chukwuedozie Onwurah: My contribution is that the said immunity clause should be totally removed because it shields public office holders against probe when they are in office. I mean, it should be totally scrapped to check the excesses of the executives.
Chimemekalam Ihuomah Tadiodi: The immunity clause should be removed so as to put a check on all public servants. Very important.
Timmy Omoh: At least, it should be amended in such a way that all public servants, from the President to the least public servant of the Sovereign State see, know and understand that none is above the law and the law of the Sovereign people of Nigeria anymore. Our children and youths should be given immunities against hunger, homelessness, nakedness, ignorance, lack of education, molestation, insecurity of all forms, victimization, harsh judgments in the court of law, unemployment, use and dump idiocy of unscrupulous so-called leaders, promise and fail liver of various levels of government, neo- empowerment programs of the government. Let us all work towards making laws that will protect our people. Let the Nigeria house of parliament makes laws that will empower and grant social security to all Nigerians at all cost. The immunity clause cannot be totally removed from our public officers, but should be amended in other to make public office holders more responsible for all.
Charles Chukumah: It should be totally removed. Nobody is being forced to rule the country. What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. The present immunity clause was cleverly put in place to encourage impunity and evil for our Executive Leaders in the country.
Paul Okeke: The immunity clause allowed our leaders to be reckless. I support the complete removal of the clause if it would help to better the affairs of our dear nation.
Fafiolu Feranmi Akinpelu: Some of our politicians have failed us. So immunity clause should be removed totally.
Oghale Egwegba: I think removing immunity clause is a bad idea. Let’s talk about the politics behind the policy in this country, which is the real problem
Osita Maduka: Removal of the immunity clause has its positive and negative aspects. It may put the governors and the President at a checkpoint. But we must remember that we are Africans where the mighty display arrogant powers to subdue the lower person and make him dance to his tunes by force. I will suggest quarterly appraisal of all elected offices. Once you have derailed out of your program in office or found guilty of any misappropriation, it would mean automatic impeachment.
Filibuster Nhebinichi Amadi: Judiciary branch of the government is the problem for our democracy, because all of them are corrupt, that’s why all the other arms are corrupt, too.
What is your opinion on the matter? Would this help to boost transparency, or put the actions or even lives of the officials at risk?