Human rights and civil society groups have said the partial removal of immunity clause by the House of Representatives in the ongoing constitution review will not check the spate of corruption in the country.
The groups said impunity was the bigger challenge facing the country and not corruption, adding that more emphasis should be placed on implementation and enforcement of existing criminal laws.
The House had on Wednesday, while passing 85 new clauses to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), rejected immunity for the President, Vice-President, state governors and their deputies facing criminal charges.
With the amendment, the beneficiaries of the clause would vacate office, if convicted of any criminal offence.
Of the 339 at the plenary session, 306 had voted to remove the clause, 17 opposed it, while 14 abstained. The House has 360 members.
Reacting to the amendment, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project said what the country needed was the political will to enforce existing criminal laws without fear or favour.
The Executive Director, SERAP, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, told SUNDAY PUNCH in an interview that only 74 Nigerians enjoyed the protection for a maximum of eight years.
He queried why many public officers found to be corrupt and who did not enjoy the constitutional protection had not been prosecuted.
He expressed concern over the failure to prosecute corrupt former heads of government that had stopped enjoying immunity from prosecution.
He warned against executive cover for criminal suspects because they were associates of those in power.
Mumuni said, “The immunity clause covers only 74 people in Nigeria – the president, vice-president, 36 governors and their deputies. What has been done to all those that do not enjoy the immunity? Some (former) governors no longer enjoy immunity but what has been done about their investigations, which show that they stole and embezzled state funds? Read more