Furore Over Immunity, Life Pension For NASS Presiding Officers | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Furore Over Immunity, Life Pension For NASS Presiding Officers

Posted: Jun 26, 2016 at 3:39 am   /   by   /   comments (1)



The nation’s lawmakers are at it again. This time, they are tinkering with the idea of amending the constitution to provide for life pension and immunity for their principal officers. This has opened a floodgate of criticisms among the people, many of who believe in the existing constitutional provision of immunity for the President and the Vice President, as well as the state Governors and the Deputy Governors.

Lawmakers Do Not Deserve Immunity, Life Pension

Comrade Abdullahi Jabi, the Secretary, Campaign for Democracy (CD), is of the view that lawmakers including the principal officers of the nation’s parliaments should not be granted immunity as they receive salaries and other allowances far above those of other hard working Nigerians.

“So, I am opposed to both life pension and immunity for them. They should be free and ‘common’ like other Nigerians are. Again, because many of them have records of criminalties and want to hide their sins against humanity and the Nigerian state by claiming immunity, the National Assembly Principal Officers should remain and be treated like any other Nigerian citizen.

“By doing so, we demystify what legislative leadership is all about. If you want to serve, yes we vote you in and not necessarily because you are to be rewarded,” he opined.

Professor of Public Administration, Ayo Adesopo, on his own, chastised the leadership and members of the National Assembly for agitating for life pension and immunity for their principal officers, describing it as unfortunate and laughable.

Prof. Adesopo of the Department of Public Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), described their move as a slap on the face of Nigerians and called on the masses not to allow such to sail through.

He charged Nigerians to rise against the move by the National Assembly to give themselves life pension and immunity for their principal officers, adding that it would amount to greed and double standard after milking the nation’s resources at will.

Adesopo maintained that the agitation showed how insensitive the nation’s leaders are and called for the conduct of mental tests for anybody that wants to occupy public position in the country.

According to him, “it is unfortunate. One is not disappointed looking at the composition of members of National Assembly. How can anybody think of something like that after bastardising the economy? The economy was bastardised by this same set of people.

“Can you imagine the ex-governors among them who arm-twisted their Houses of Assembly to grant them life pension and now want another life pension at the national level? These are also people that are already retired as public servants, already on pension. It is worrisome. The masses must not allow it to work.

“The unfortunate thing is that the poor retired public servants are not being paid as at when due and now those that the lawmakers are already ‘loaded’, they still want more. In fact, it is a slap on Nigerians which must not be allowed to hold.

“When one hears the asset some of them declare, the next thing that will come to one’s mind will be how old are they? And what did they do to acquire such assets? What I am very sure of is things cannot continue like this.

“Lawyers are not helping matters too under the disguise that they are doing their legitimate work. We all complain of the situation of things in Nigeria yet they hide under technical points to frustrate every effort. Things cannot continue like this. It shows how insensitive our leaders are.

It’s Obnoxious And Nauseating Idea

Venerable Best Agbolayah, a cleric, maintained that it was wrong for lawmakers to be canvassing for life pension and immunity for principal officers of the National Assembly. According to him, “I want to say without fear of equivocation that they are all rogues.

“That is the only reason they are fighting for their own. Why do they need immunity if they are really free from financial crimes against the good people of Nigeria who elected them? And why is it only for the principal officers anyway?

“They want to be shielded from prosecution from the law throughout their lives so that they and their families can forever enjoy the looted funds and commonwealth of the people. Nigerians should resist their antics through mass action to compel them to immediately drop the obnoxious and nauseating idea from the pit of hell. It is arrant nonsense.”

Immunity, Not Life Pension For NASS Presiding Officers – Ogor

Hon. Leo Okuweh Ogor, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, has thrown his weight behind the call for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to grant immunity for presiding officers of the National Assembly, saying that the demand is not negotiable.

Ogor, who represents Isoko North/South Federal Constituency of Delta State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also stated that the idea for immunity for the presiding officers was not for the fun of it, but to insulate them from unnecessary distractions in the course of their tenure.

He said: “If you understand what the immunity clause is, it is against criminal and civil issues during the tenure of the presiding officers. That is the essence of the amendment. And I tell you, this is one major issue which probably the public has failed to appreciate.”

Continuing, he said: “The essence of any amendment in any law is to address specific mischief. And what are the mischief that we have discovered? First of all, take for example the position of the Senate President Bukola Saraki. It carries a lot and lots of responsibilities. And so, the idea of immunity for the presiding officers is to avoid unnecessary distractions. That does not exonerate him from any criminal or civil trial after his tenure.

“But while in the office, the interest of the nation comes first before any other interest. He is at that time carrying out important assignments for the nation. Here we are talking about the Number Three man in the country. The immunity clause is also for the Speaker of the House, the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker of the House and that is where it stops.”

Ogor also suggested that the same gesture be extended to the Speakers of State Assembly and their Deputies.

According to him, “If after their tenure, there are pending allegations, a Senate President, governors or their deputies, they (security agencies) are as free as the air to go after them. But a situation where today, Saraki, the Senate President and the Deputy Senate President are in court, that invariably means the Senate will not sit.

“There could be fundamental national issues that they need to attend to which is why there is need to avoid the unnecessary distractions. And that is why I think the amendment is necessary. I feel it should sail through no matter whatever negative feelings anybody may have about it.”

Ogor argued further: “If the Number Three man in the country cannot enjoy immunity, why should a deputy governor who is not known to the national hierarchy of protocol have that same immunity?

“You know, these are food for thought for all of us. We should have a very clear and open-minded approach to whatever discussion we are going into. I see nothing wrong with giving immunity to presiding officers.

“But, as per life pension, I have my reservations. And because of the dwindling financial situation, I want to differ a little. But as for the immunity clause, I think it’s not negotiable.”

Past Leaders Deserve Respect, Rewards, But,…

Rev. (Dr) Matthias Echioda, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Niger State chapter, said that past Presidents, Principal Officers of the National Assembly, Governors and their Deputies deserve to be respected or rewarded after meritoriously serving this country in different capacities.

He however, maintained that when people talk of life pension, such honours and reward should be based on how and what they did while in office and not just for the fun of it.

He said: “For immunity, the legislature deserves immunity like others elected into offices with high responsibilities. I believe if we do honour them, they will be more willing to serve and the nation will be better for it.”

Barrister Gavers Ihematulam, a Minna-based lawyer, on his own, stated that there should be immunity for the principal officers in the three arms of government. These, he said, should include the President, state Governors and as well as Principal Officers of the National Assembly, such as the Senate President and his Deputy.

Ihematulam added: “It is also good for ex-Presidents of this country to be granted life pension so that they will have something to fall back on after serving this country and retiring. You and I know what life expectancy is all about and by the time many of them finish their tenure, they would have been too old to do anything tangible to live on pending their deaths.

“So, whatever little stipends given to them on monthly basis will go a long way to keep their hopes alive and the joy that they are reaping the fruits of their labour to the Nigerian state. The Senate President, his Deputy and Governors also deserve life pension.

“But, that is also not arguable if they have performed creditably well, not evidently involved in any fraudulent acts that portray them in bad light.

Comments (1)

  • Jun 26, 2016 at 5:34 am Olima

    Bunch of thieves. This is the handwork of saraki and ekweremadu with other ex governors who through the money stolen by them gather themselves together to continue to milk the nation. The rumours about the military taken over or planning a coup emanate from them as they are the sponsor of militants in the niger delta region, coruption is fighting back vigorously and it is up to we Nigerians to resist their attempts to disabilise Nigeria as a nation, as far as they are concern, they are rich and they can go to another country if there is any trouble. What this national assembly want now is for the military to come in to block the govt efforts of exposing their criminal acts of Deeping their hands into treasures and they will be a conduct pipes for the military in looting the treasures as they have done before, as they are the budget paddling 8th assembly who are not fit for a purpose because of their insincerity and fearless heart as they are not there for the poor masses but for themselves and their families. Let it be known to them that it shall be more tolerable for sodom and comoras in the Bible than for them if the poor masses should rise against them. They should start correcting these abnormal behaviour before these happen.

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