Immunity Clause Should Be Retained, Says AC Stalwart

  • Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - The PM News
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An Action Congress (AC) chairmanship aspirant in Lagos Island East council, Lukmon Adekunle-Alli, has lent his voice to the recent debate that has been permeating the polity over the call to expunge the immunity clause enshrined in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, which shields the president, vice-president, state governors and their deputies, from prosecution, while in office.

Recently, president Umar Yar’Adua had reiterated his earlier call for the clause to be expunged from the constitution, saying it encourages corruption by public office holders, especially those it is applicable to, while the governor of Lagos state, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, objected to its removal, saying it would cause chaos, unnecessary and frivolous litigations from the society and thus slow down the process of governance.

Alli prefers a situation where evidential facts against an erring public servant could be coveted for prosecution. This assertion, he said, has also been affirmed by Fashola’s predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

According to Adekunle-Alli, it’s what we are not ready for, while he spoke deeply about Nigeria, where so many reckless and tactless petition writers abound, saying that a mere allegation would be right for a tyrannical government to remove a governor.

“The agencies established to fight corruption, the EFCC and ICPC, are young organisations with reputable people at the helm of affairs. Personally, I would rather advocate for a situation where there is a clause in the constitution that stipulates that any public office holder found to have erred in his obligation under oath to protect his state or country, should be indicted and recommended for impeachment by either the state Assembly in the case of state governors, or National Assembly, if it is the president or his deputy,” he advocated.

He cited as example, the recent situation in Illinois, where the state governor was indicted for trying to sell a senate seat to the highest bidder, saying the erring governor was not just indicted on mere bickering, but on methodical and systemic form of investigation beyond reasonable doubt, adding that, “we should treat a case of that nature in isolation, as we have not got all the democratic values and rights which those in that part of the world have.”

He said further that there are only 74 people covered by the immunity clause, but no minister, commissioner, PHCN official or NPA official and even local government chairman have been prosecuted for corruption, as it takes not just one person to commit a crime.

“If we are serious about fighting corruption in all its ramifications, we should start the reduction right from the root cause and the general mindset of people geared towards corrupt tendencies,” he said.

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