The bill to confer immunity on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives has scaled second reading despite opposition.
The bill also seeks to confer immunity on presiding officers of the State House of Assembly to shield them from prosecution when they are occupying their offices
The bill sponsored by Segun Odebunmi was considered on Tuesday and passed through second reading despite opposition from members.
The Presiding officer, Femi Gbajabimila initially expressed reservation on presiding over the debate to prevent conflict of interest. He said the bill should be tweaked to state that the current presiding officers will not benefit from it. He, however, did not step aside as support for the bill came across party lines.
“If it’s on presiding officers, I cannot preside on this bill, there is a conflict of interest. If the bill is on subsequent presiding officers. You should put a futuristic commencement date,” he said.
Leading the debate on the bill, Odebunmi said that, “in spite of the uninterrupted concentration required for carrying out effective legislative duty, this institution has suffered serious distractions in the past.
“Either genuine or not, such distractions have had serious negative impact on quality of legislation, as well as discouraging presiding officers of the legislative institution’s at National and State levels from taking the bull by the horn or take certain critical decisions when necessary for fear of unknown.”
Sergious Ogun, in his contribution, rejected the bill, and called for the removal of the immunity clause preventing prosecution of the Executive.
Ogun said: “Where we are today in our democracy, many are asking that we remove the immunity of the President and governors. I don’t think we need such as a parliament. I think we need to lift the immunity of the president. If we have a judiciary that is working, there is any reason why we cannot have president or governor going to jail.”
The Minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu also opposed the bill that there are more pressing issues, such as insecurity which the House ought to pay more attention to.
“What is important is provision of security to our people, our people are desirous of good life, our people are being killed. In Isala, people were killed. When we are bringing the bill on immunity, the bill is coming at a wrong time. Just as you are saying that you do not want to benefit yourself. What are we saying or doing that we should have immunity for the presiding officer. I know you very well, you do not care if you are probe. This will send the wrong signal. This is wrong, and I totally disagree.”
However, the Majority Leader of the House, Ado Dogwa, who is also the Chairman of the House Committee on constitution amendment led the support for the bill. The Depurty Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, the Chief Whip, Muhammed Monguno, the Chairman of Committee on Rules and Business, Abuabakar Fulata also supported the bill.