Senate begins process to strip President and governors of Immunity


– The Senate has commenced the process of amending section 308 of the 1999 Constitution

– The bill was sponsored by Senator Ovie omo-Agege (LP, Delta)

– The proposed bill stated that no president or governor shall be entitled to immunity

The Senate has started the process of amending section 308 of the 1999 constitution which gives the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors immunity against prosecution while they are in office.

The bill which was sponsored by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (LP, Delta) has been referred to the Senate committee on constitution amendment chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki had announced before the commencement of Christmas/New Year holiday that the constitution amendment would be passed early next year.

Senate begins process to strip President and governors of Immunity

Specifically, the bill seen in the National Assembly journal proposed the substitution of subsection 308(2) that presently reads: “The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party,” with a new section.

The proposed amendment reads, the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to, (a) “ civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.”

(b) reads: “criminal proceedings connected to, related to or arising from economic and financial crimes.”

According to Daily Trust, Omo-Agege said the president and governors in the United States are only immune to civil actions arising from their official office, and advised that the Nigerian constitution should emulate this.

He said: “They are not entitled to immunity from litigation for actions not germane to their work. For example a president or governor who buys a car for a child and refuses to pay can be taken to court while in office.”

Omo-Agege added that: “Also like in the US, there should be no immunity from criminal investigation or prosecution for crimes committed either before or while in office.

“Recall that Mr. Spiro Agnew while a sitting VP under President Nixon was tried and convicted for tax evasion while in office. Bill Clinton as a sitting president was hauled before a grand jury by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr for perjury (lying under oath) while in office as president.

“Finally, Elliot Spitzer as a sitting governor of New York was tried and convicted for illicit soliciting.”

He expressed optimism that if the amendment is passed, there will be sanity, transparency and accountability in the Executive Arm of government, especially, “Treatment of our state resources which most of them currently treat as slush funds.”

Meanwhile the Senate President Bukola Saraki has reacted to reports by the Department of State Service (DSS) that an aide of his, Ikenga Ugochinyere, is plotting ‘attacks’ against the federal government. Saraki in a statement delivered by his media aide, Yusuf Olaniyonu late on Thursday, December 22, said he would not condone an attack on the FG by anyone close to him.


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Louis Ojibe

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