Friday, May 28, 2021

Senate receives proposal to remove immunity for President, Governors

 The amendment would remove protection from criminal prosecution currently enjoyed by active executive officials

The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution has received a memo seeking to eliminate constitutional immunity for executives against whom substantial evidence of crime has been established.

Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution protects presidents, vice presidents, governors, and deputy governors from prosecution for any crime for as long as they remain in office.

The provision has been the target of criticism in the past with critics noting it interferes with the administration of justice.

A law firm named First Chronicles LP on Thursday, May 27, 2021 told the committee on constitutional review that the protection should be removed when the public official has been accused of a criminal offence.

The firm said the Public Officers Protection Act and the Immunity Clause should be suspended once an established standing committee establishes a prima facie criminal case against such elected official.

The committee is to comprise appointed members from the Ministry of Justice and Civil Society.

First Chronicles LP also requested amendment regarding electoral reforms, including electronic voting and diaspora voting, and advocated for a unicameral legislature with a Federal House that consists three representatives from existing senatorial districts.

The firm also asked that the constitution be amended to create a Ministry of Vulnerable Persons to oversee matters affecting people living with disabilities, the elderly, and people displaced by poverty and natural disasters.

The hearings which held in Lagos on Wednesday and Thursday were part of a series of public engagement on the amendment of the constitution that simultaneously took place in other geopolitical zones of the country.

Dozens of other organisations and individuals also presented their memos, with the most common topics revolving around gender equality, restructuring, and devolution of power from the Federal Government to the State and Local Governments.

Some also proposed that the 1999 constitution be completely scrapped and replaced with a new citizens-led constitution.

Before proposed amendments can become law, they will have to be passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, two-thirds of all 36 States' Houses of Assembly, and signed by the president.

Source: Pulse NG

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