Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reps propose removal of immunity for president, others; reject life pension for Mark

Published:

Aminu Tambuwal

‬The lawmakers differ in their submissions on crucial issues.

‪The House of Representatives has rejected the Senate’s proposal of a life pension package for the National Assembly leaders, in its constitution amendment proposals that also recommends the removal of the immunity clause that shields corrupt governors and presidents from prosecution while in office.‬

‪The report of the House constitution review committee, submitted Thursday, deleted the immunity provision from the constitution, raising the prospect that someday, Nigerians will be able to seek and obtain the prosecution of any of their serving leaders, including the president, governors and their deputies, if they are found to have violated the law.‬

‪Setting its own clear course for a review that has spanned more than a year, the House delivered amendment proposals that significantly differ from those submitted by the Senate nearly a month ago.‬

‪While the Senate retained the contentious immunity, fearing its removal will lead to “anarchy”, the House said its removal to open heads of the executive arm of government to prosecution, will “stem impunity levels”‬

‪“In line with the results from the Peoples’ Public Sessions, the Committee also removed the immunity from prosecution from criminal offences for persons occupying the position of president, vice president, governor and deputy governor, and to stem impunity levels,” the House review committee that collated inputs from Nigerians at public sessions, said in the report.‬

‪Both chambers agreed on autonomy for local government councils long seen as units abused by state governors; and also agreed that the offices of the Attorney General be separated from the Justice Minister; and that the Accountant General and the Auditor General be separate offices.‬

‪But the House turned down the Senate’s proposal for a single term of six years for a president and governor; and rejected a Senate’s recommendation to implement a life pension programme for the Senate president and Speaker of the House of Representatives.‬

‪Amongst the elected office holders, that privilege is currently enjoyed by the president and the vice, while states like Rivers have also approved laws securing a juicy post-office package for past governors.‬

‪Both chambers have yet to debate the recommendations submitted by committees respectively headed by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and the Deputy House Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.‬

‪Mr. Ihedioha called for a quick consideration of the report and an eventual approval. The reports’ recommendations are far from becoming laws. Even after the House and the Senate may have approved their details, 24 or more states will be needed to give assent.‬

‪Despite retaining the provision of immunity, the Senate’s report, as the House’s, largely introduced measures to curb the powers of presidents and state governors.‬

‪The senate committee said a single term clause was necessary for the presidents and governors to deal with the “distraction” associated with re-election bids.‬

‪“Considering the financial expenses often associated with the re-election and to ensure that executive heads are freed from the distractions to be able to concentrate on public policy issues, a provision for a single term of six years for president and governors is made,” Mr. Ekweremadu said.‬

‪Again, while the senate replaces the word “Force” in the Nigerian Police Force with “Service”, the House accepts neither. The title should just be “Nigerian Police”, the House said.‬

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