Senate, Reps Disagree On Immunity Clause For President, Governors

The Senate has retained immunity for governors and president, in a move contrary to the position of the House of Representatives as the process leading to the amendment of the 1999 constitution continues.

The upper house ratified 23 new amendments to the 1999 Constitution, approving autonomy for local governments, by amending Section 7 of the constitution.

The Senate also approved independent candidacy for future elections, in its amendment of sections 65 and 106 of the 1999 Constitution.

The Senate also conferred immunity to legislators in respect of words they speak or write in exercise of their legislative duties, amending Section 4 of the constitution.

Section 67 was also amended by the lawmakers, making it mandatory for the president to deliver a “state of the nation address” to a joint session of the National Assembly once a year, while also empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties after failing to meet certain conditions: breach of registration requirements and failure to win any of the presidential, governorship, local government chairmanship elections or seats in either the state of National Assembly.

The amendment also confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court for trial of election offences.

The senators ratified that a court or tribunal shall not stay any proceedings on account of any interlocutory appeal; and that where a “force majeure” occurs, the period shall not be counted in the computation of the 180 days for the purpose of determining election petitions.

The new amendments will, thereafter, be forwarded to state houses of assemblies, where each item would require the concurrence of two thirds of the 36 state assemblies.