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Reps granting immunity to principal officers is ripping up the constitution—SERAP

Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker, House of Representatives

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned “the passing of a bill seeking to give leaders of federal and state legislatures immunity from prosecution for corruption.”

Responding to the development, SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “Providing immunity for presiding officers against crimes of corruption is tantamount to ripping up the constitution. It’s a blatant assault on the rule of law and breach of public trust.”

SERAP said: “The leadership of the House of Representatives must immediately withdraw this obnoxious bill. We will vigorously challenge this impunity.”

The statement read in part: “It’s a huge setback for the rule of law that the same privileged and powerful leaders of parliament that regularly make laws that consign ordinary, powerless Nigerians to prison for even trivial offences yet again want to establish elite immunity to protect themselves from any consequences for serious crimes of corruption and money laundering.”

“Whereas countries like Guatemala has voted unanimously to strip their president of immunity from prosecution for corruption our own lawmakers are moving in the opposite direction.”

“The message seems to be that in Nigeria, powerful and influential actors must not be and are not subject to the rule of law. It’s simply not proper for lawmakers to be the chief advocates of immunity for corruption.”

“It’s a form of political corruption for the parliamentarians to abuse their legislative powers, intended for use in the public interest but instead for personal advantage. This is an unacceptable proposition as it gives the impression that both the principal officers of the National Assembly are above the law.”

“If the House of Representatives should have their way, this will rob Nigerians of their rights to accountable government.”

“Public officials who are genuinely committed to the well-being of the state and its people, and to the estab­lishment of an effective and functioning system of administration of jus­tice, should have absolutely nothing to fear.”

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