Last week, Hon. Rimamnde Kwewum introduced a bill at the House of Representatives that would yank off the constitutional immunity executives enjoy.
Kwewum’s bill has since sparked off intense debate among Nigerians, weighing its pros, and cons.
This, and two other stories, were the highlight of events that caught our attention at the National Assembly (NASS), past week.
Clipping executives’ wings
The House of Representatives, on July 7, considered a bill for the removal of immunity from criminal and civil prosecution enjoyed by the President, Vice-President, governors and their deputies.
Presenting the Constitution amendment bill, at the House, Hon. Rimamnde Kwewum, said among others, that: “The amendment proposed here, however, seeks to limit or remove such immunity, whether civil or criminal.”
He had noted that the existing order was tantamount to “deifying humans…protecting heinous crimes against the people and the State.”
Kwewum’s bill is one that has generated a lot of interest because of the strategic and sensitive positions occupied by members of the executive and how litigations against them can become tools of intimidation and distraction to governance.
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Indeed, this is not the first time such a bill would gain the attention of the House. Under the Speakership of Aminu Tambuwal, in 2013, the House deliberated on it without any meaningful progress.
However, the later argument that several members of the executives have hidden under the existing order to perpetrate evil makes it even more imperative that adequate structures be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.
Kwewum’s bill must, therefore, be given all the support it deserves to become law, as too many examples abound of how some select members of the political class have become law unto themselves.
Nigerians wait with baited breath to see what will finally become of the bill.
NASS MEMORY LANE
“The turbulence in the country today derives from the concerns of some parts of the country that they have been side-lined and that the Federal Government has failed or even refused to protect them. Although all Nigerians are by law meant to be equal, sections of the communique issued at the end of the last meeting of the Southern Governors Forum in Lagos, also point to the same concern that some Nigerians have since become less or more equal than others. Never in the history of post-civil war Nigeria has the cry of marginalisation and preferential treatment been so pronounced, and never has separatist agitations been so intense and pervasive. Verily, verily I say unto you, even if we clamp all the separatist agitators into prisons; even if we unleash all the Nigerian military and Police might formations unto the streets, such agitations and the rise of ethnic militants will never cease unless we address the factors that gave rise to them in the first place?”
Answer: See end of post
Two other stories
Legalizing State police
On July 6, the Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Hon. Onofiok Luke’s bill seeking to amend 1999 Constitution in order to allow for the creation of State Police and legalise regional security outfits passed second reading.
The bill also provides that the current Police system will be decentralised by moving Police from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.
In an explanatory note, Luke said that the bill sought to alter the Constitution, “to provide for State Police and other State Government security services to enhance security and preservation of lives and properties in Nigeria.”
Luke’s bill is arguably a modest attempt at ending the long tussle and legality on the lingering clamour for State Police, and regional security outfits.
Ordinarily, the issues on State Police and regional security outfits would not gain national attention, if the Executive led by President Muhammadu Buhari was alive to its primary duties of protecting the citizenry from Boko Haram terrorists, marauding killer herdsmen, bandits, among other criminal elements.
In a situation where State Governors lack constitutional power to control the Police, while wearing the toga of Chief Security Officer of their States amounts to an official mockery and misrepresentation.
More worrisome is the fact that governors of South West and South East regions had to step on toes to get their security outfits: Amotekun and Ebube-Agu working. These must have been the inspiring factors for the bill.
Luke, and his NASS colleagues who support this bill must brace up to the challenges ahead, as conservative elements within the polity gear up to frustrate the initiative on grounds of ego and narrow political interests.
Kaduna’s endless killings
At a plenary, the House resolved to “condemn the senseless incessant killings and abductions of Nigerians.” They also urged all security agencies to “take necessary measures to ensure the early and safe return of the abductees.”
The security situation in Kaduna is pitiable.
The efforts of government have been below par and citizens are fast losing the hope they have in security agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting them.
The House must realise that the pitiable situation has long transcended the terrain of condemnation, and that the time was more than ripe to demand far-reaching accountability from the executive on how they have dispensed the resources placed at their disposal for the conduct of the war against terrorism and banditry.
Will the House tow this path? Or, will they only stop at making statements at the green chamber? Only time will tell.
Answer: Senator Ike Ekweremadu
Ekweremadu – who is a former Deputy Senate President – made the statement on July 12, 2021, while delivering a keynote address in Lagos at the 2021 Law Week event of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), themed: “Building a Nigeria of Our Dreams.” He represents Enugu-West Senatorial District.
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