Immunity clause: Open invitation to impunity, executive criminality –Ndarani

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By Ebere Agozie

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mohammed Ndarani, says the immunity clause provided for governors and their deputies under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution is an open invitation to impunity and an expressway to executive criminality.

Ndarai said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.

He said that the only remedy would be to expunge it from Nigeria’s jurisprudence.

“It is only then that we can fight and win our war against corruption, practice good democracy and conduct free and fair elections.

“This is why we submit that because section 308 of the 1999 constitution has outlived its usefulness it should be done away with now,’’ he concluded.

He said it presents an open invitation to violation and trampling under foot of the fundamental human rights of Nigerian citizens and leads to self-aggrandisement and unhealthy self-enrichment drives.

“Look at what is going on with the EFCC and its investigations of former governors and the amount of assets being recovered across the board.

“This immunity clause should be removed and completely abolished’’, he said.

The senior lawyer said since the immunity exempts governors and their deputies from criminal and civil liability, it follows that the constitution shields them from the long arms of the law.

“This creates an atmosphere under which they could, and do wreak havoc on the economy, social fabric and political health of the country with wanton indiscretion.

“This is why we contended in our submission on the memorandum for the review of provisions of the 1999 constitution which we see as highly controversial, and contradictory.

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“It undermines the corporate existence of the nation as an entity of equal citizens and opens the way for various violations and abuse.

According to him this ought not to be so, and should be curtailed so that it is either completely expunged or struck down, or it is qualified.

“That someone is a sitting governor or a deputy governor does not and ought not to place that person above everybody else,’’ he told NAN.

He said the immunity clause does not rest on any known human ideal of equality, fairness and justice as these governors and deputies continue to enjoy immunity for things done while in office even after they have left office.

“This is where the real danger lies as it simply means that these classes of persons are sacred cows, untouchable.

“I agree with those who argue that this wide latitude of immunity is a temptation for even the most sanctimonious of people given the high level of societal decadence. Nobody should or ought to be made to be above the law.

“Our leaders have shown a propensity to do the wrong things over and over again, but they enjoy doing it with impunity.

“Coincidentally, these our leaders know that they are untouchable, and they promote the bent to always go against the law, disobey court orders and commit electoral offences”, he said.

He alleged that governors and their deputies steal and cart away common resources to their homes while some of them lock them in water and underground septic tanks to our knowledge, while the law seems powerless to proceed against them. (NAN)

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Edited by Uche Anunne

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