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Group rejects immunity for legislators

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Nasarawa State Coalition of Civil Societies/Media on constitutional review has kicked against immunity for legislators in the ongoing constitutional amendment process.

The group took the position at a civil society and media strategy/technical session on constitutional review workshop organized by the Centre for Women Youth and Community Action, (NACWYCA) in collaboration with the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) in Lafia.

The amendment which seeks to protect the legislators from prosecution for words spoken on floor or in the course of their normal legislative duties was kicked against but they adopted financial autonomy for the legislators.

They also supported fiscal autonomy on Local Government funding and administration, independent candidacy, distributable pool account, among others.

The coalition argued that if immunity is granted to legislators, it would promote impunity and recklessness in the business of legislation as well as create room for corrupt tendencies in the system.

They rather resolved to engage members of the State House of Assembly, traditional rulers, religious and other relevant stakeholders to throw their weight behind issues that would promote good governance and positively touch the lives of the Nigeria masses in the amendment process.

Speaking earlier, federal team leader of PERL, Mr. Rommy Mom explained that the workshop was aimed at engaging the media and other civil society organizations on how best they could contribute towards the realization of the constitutional review.

Meanwhile, a Professor of law and founding Executive Director of Women Aid Collective (WACOL), Joy Ezeilo, has urged all stakeholders involved in the amendment of the 1999 constitution to ensure that the process is completed by first quarter of next year.

Ezeilo, who spoke during the Constitutional Review forum held on Thursday at the City Global Hotels, Owerri, Imo State, said there are organizations ready to engage all critical stakeholders to ensure that the amendment process is completed and signed by the president before the heat of election next quarter.

Such partnering organisations, she said are Christian Aid, Voice to the People (V2P), PERL, the media and some Civil Society Organizations.

Her words: ‘’We are hoping that it will get concluded this year, so that it does not get to the heat of election in 2018. Let’s hope that by next quarter of next year, at most that everything would have perfected and signed by the President.’’

Ezeilo was of the view that the constitution review process should not be an elitist exercise.

She stressed that as a supreme law of the land, at the end of the day, the use of persuasion should be adopted to ensure that the lawmakers at various levels endorsed the provisions in the amendment.

“Constitution is about the people. It is supreme law of the land. It is not like every other legislation. People must defend that. We are trying to make people understand the contents of the constitution and engage in advocacy with legislators. We must give ourselves this constitution and share it’s ownership,’’ She said.


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