The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) has berated the move by lawmakers to propose a bill seeking to give leaders of federal and state legislatures immunity from prosecution for corruption.
HURIWA in a statement issued on Wednesday by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said that; “the hierarchy of the National Assembly should note that “only the guilty are afraid.”
The rights group also claimed that the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila may be afraid of possible “prosecution over something only both of them know for rushing up a bill to grant themselves immunity from prosecution.”
HURIWA also wonders whether the Nigerian parliament is located in the “outer space for the members not to have known that even recently in Great Britain the Prime minister Boris Johnson was dragged to Court by some citizens over the ways and manner that he shut the House of Commons so as to foist his own kind of BREXIT on that session of the parliament and the British Supreme Court overturned the closing of the House of Commons by the controversial premier.”
The statement by the group reads thus in full; “We are shocked that at a time the entire civilized world is opening up the political spaces and making political leadership a much more transparent activity in which the actors must abide by the tenets of full disclosures and respect the twin virtues of transparency and accountability the Nigerian National Assembly is busy making evil law that would turn their job to that of secret cult. The attempt to do that offends section 15(5) of the constitution which forbids the abuse of power by political office holders. The FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT is also a binding law which is against such dubious immunity clauses.
“Awarding themselves immunity from prosecution is a clear message to Nigerians that the bunch of legislators at the National Assembly has committed outrageous crimes that they do not wish that people should know or they are afraid of their shadows and are preparing for post-retirement FREEDOM from the necessary legal demands for accountability. Nigerians must stoutly oppose this unconstitutional attempt to introduce the dictatorship of legislators.
“As human rights crusaders, we do not think that Nigeria should be drawn back to the medieval periods when kings and rulers are above the law and whereby tyranny was the order of the day. These National Assembly members had better been told to abolish section 308(1) instead of attempting to further cloth themselves with the capricious and wicked immunity from being tasked to give account of their stewardship.”
This comes two days after the the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) condemned the bill mooted by lawmakers.
According to SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare; “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.”
The organization further said that the leadership of the House of Representatives must immediately withdraw this obnoxious bill.
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