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House In Rowdy Session Over Amendment To Immunity Clause
The House of Representatives was thrown into a rowdy session on the first day of plenary after the Eid-el-Fitri break, during debates on a bill seeking to alter Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution in order to enable leaders of the National Assembly also enjoy immunity from prosecution while in office.
Section 308 is the section of the Nigerian constitution which allows the President, Vice President; State Governors and Deputy Governors to enjoy immunity over civil and criminal matters.
The motion was sponsored by Leo Ogor, the Minority Leader of the House, but it was vehemently opposed by Femi Gbajabiamila, the Majority Leader, who said that the timing of the bill is wrong, insisting that Nigerians will not support it.
“We must feel the pulse of the people,” Gbajabiamila said.
“There is something about timing, timing in any piece of legislation is important. There are issues in the senate and I pray it’s resolved.”
He also noted that no legislation in the world provides immunity for its presiding officers.
The House was divided in two with one section calling for the bill to be passed for second reading and the other section saying the bill should be thrown out.
In his verdict, Speaker Yakubu Dogara explained that any bill that seeks to amend the constitution is usually allowed to pass through the second reading, before being sent to the adhoc committee on the review of constitution, adding that “The bill can die even at the committee”.