Group condemns proposed immunity bill for legislators, supports others
• NBA accuses Imo govt of withholding judges’ allowances, flays N5m payment to NASS members
A coalition of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has rejected the endorsement of a proposed bill seeking immunity for legislators against any comments they make during plenary and committee proceedings.
They made this known after their one-day forum with members of the Imo House of Assembly in Owerri yesterday.
At the forum organised by the Development Dynamics (DD), led by its Programme Director, Jude Ohanele, the participants lamented the abuse of immunity being enjoyed by governors and the President.
The group wondered why immunity should be extended to the lawmakers at any level of government.
They also urged the Houses of Assembly in the country not to support the amendment bill of the constitution, as transmitted by the National Assembly (NASS).
According to the coalition comprising representatives of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA); the Media and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), among others, any constitutional backing given to lawmakers would not favour the development of democracy in the country.
The bill titled: Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Fourth Alteration Number 8) Act 2017 is seeking to prevent civil and criminal proceedings against lawmakers in respect of words spoken or written at plenary sessions or committee.
It also seeks to institutionalise legislative bureaucracy in the Constitution by providing for a National Assembly Service Commission (NASC).
Majority Leader, Uche Oguwuike, Israel Nnataraonye (Mbaitoli Constituency); Chukwuemeka Loyld (Owerri North Constituency) and Arthur Egwim (Ideato North Constituency), among others, who participated in the forum, however, approved other bills including the Reduction of Age to Contest bill, also known as the ‘Not Too Young to Run’.
They canvassed approval for Local Government Autonomy, Authorization of Expenditure, Procedure for Overriding Veto in Constitution Alteration and Independent Candidature, among others.
Speaking, Owerri Branch Chairman of the NMA, Lawrence Nwaketi, accused the Rochas Okorocha Government of withholding the allowances of High Court Judges in the state because they were not favouring the state in their judgments.
The Imo State Chairman of NMA, Darlington Akukwu, accused the NASS of secretly passing a bill empowering its members to draw N5 million HIV allowances.