Where there is duty, there is responsibility and obligations.
It would appear that too many public office holders in Nigeria are only interested in the benefits conferred on them by virtue of their public positions and the perquisites they derive as public office holders?
Additionally, it is as if these public office holders selectively and surgically remove section 308 of the constitution of Nigeria 1999, for some special obeisance, while practically disdainful of the rest of our constitution, as if in complete disregard and utter contempt for the rest of the constitution? Section 308 which provides for immunity from prosecution for president, vice president, governors and their deputies therefore serves their warped and twisted interests, as they ignore the rest of Nigeria’s most important legal document?
But what do they owe us members of the public, electorate or citizens?
What is their responsibility and obligations, in upholding our laws etc?
A holistic interpretation of section 308 is required, to have a clear understanding of what the rational and general intent of the drafter of our constitutions had in mind. The immunity provision was not intended to confer infallibility on governors. The immunity clause does not make a state governor an equal to a Nigerian president!
Diplomatic affairs is under federal exclusive list, legislatively and governors do not appoint Nigeria’s foreign service personnel or ambassadors. State governors do not conduct Nigeria’s foreign affairs or enter treaties, independent of Nigeria’s government at the center, that is, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
The immunity clause in our constitution was clearly not intended to shield or protect a president, vice president, governor or deputy governor, if they engage in gross misconducts and criminalities, such as rape, armed robbery or murder! Just as the immunity clause was not intended to protect public office holders who plunder Nigeria’s public treasuries of wealth and national resources.
States Houses of Assembly appear to have misunderstood the relevant section to mean, a blank check or carte blanc protection for the aforementioned public officials, even if they commit homicide or acts of terrorism!
The general intendments of section 308 provisions regarding immunity, was merely to enable freedom of actions in the discharge of the official duties by president, vice president and governor or deputy governor. Meaning that, Dr. Akinyuli of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has the right to confiscate fake medicines brought into Nigeria by me, or made in Nigeria by former girlfriend, and Dr. Akinyuli of NAFDAC should thereafter not expect to be sued by me or my ex-girlfriend for compensation or reimbursements, regarding our overhead costs and anticipated profits from our illegal business?
Another analogy, probably better one is, let us suppose that there is an outbreak of bird flu, Avian flu, in Otta Farms which belongs to that guy who returns to the farms in 2007. Ogun state therefore, in protection of public health and safety, in efforts to avoid the spread of the deadly virus to other neighboring chicken farms and the branches in Adamawa, Edo and Enugu states, is advised by Dr. Obasanjo the vet expert in animal husbandry, who intimate the governor, better act now, before this fatal flu spreads nationwide to other chicken farms and spread further to humans.
The governor of Ogun state heads straight to Otta Farms, slaughters all the chicken or birds there, all in good faith, to safeguard public health and safety in Ogun and perhaps nationally. The immunity clause enshrined in section 308 becomes a protection for Ogun state governor, so that our friend, the chicken farmer of Otta Farms, has no recourse and cannot sue Ogun state governor while he is in office and even when he is no longer in office, provided that the governor of Ogun state had acted in good faith without abuse of discretion and where such actions were guided by public interests and the common good of all. It is a different matter if the governor used bad faith or was malicious. And the result will be the same, even if our Otta Farmer hired twenty Gani Fawehinmis and 40 Dr. Abayomis (SAN) etc
As a sweetener for such public health and safety actions, the Otta Farmer may receive some (usually adequate or market price) compensation for the destroyed chickens or assorted farm birds.
The circumstances surrounding the thieving governors and other pillaging officials are spectacularly unique in themselves as some Nigerian officials have turned the immunity clause to a culture of impunity and their misconducts are novel as they are ruinous!
Clearly, some Nigerian officials have bastardized the immunity clause in our constitution, that was generally intended as protections for some categories of public office holders, essentially, to enable them to have freedom of action, actions they undertake in their public capacity for the benefit of the general public or the citizenry.
We have now witnessed extreme abuse by some public officials, whereby, some of our officials engage in extreme illegalities, consciously and knowingly, as they seek protection from section 308, which was surely not intended to protect anyone, anyone! who willingly engage in the commission of heinous crimes for selfish purpose and personal interests and corrupt enrichment!
The specter of these flagrant and brazen abuses by our public officials, have led to so much outcry. The scourge of corruption has done so much damage to Nigeria both internally and externally and every Nigerian now wants corruption to quickly go away from our country, corruption should be eliminated, eradicated, killed and removed!
What is required therefore? Very extraordinary and drastic legal measures are imperatives. Anything short of draconian and arbitrary steps; hence I have written previously ‘Expunge, Excise & Repeal Immunity Clause’ and also the following links that have been provided below, in which I have discussed the crucially important nature of the immunity clause and concept in our laws, particularly, our constitution.
Immunity From Prosecution; A Delicate Balancing Act
True, other countries institute immunity clauses. Into their constitutional and national laws and it is observed reciprocally by nations. (Please endeavor to read the links as they provide my comprehensive view on the immunity concept).
The thieving governor of Bayelsa is not the president of Nigeria and he is not an ambassador. Bayelsa does not appoint nor send diplomats of any level, to various countries, separate and apart from federal diplomats. There are no ‘state diplomats’ a state is of course, a subdivision/subsection of Nigeria. (Federal diplomat is an oxymoron)! Nigeria’s constitution specifies state rights and the roles of state governors, governors are not to be seen as co-president or an equal in capacity, duties or as symbol of Nigeria as a president.
I am an apostle of the rule of law and all the ideals and tenets of democracy, including due process rules. I advocate passionately, the importance of the certainty of reward and punishment, (this is the crucial difference between Nigeria and the United States.
We must obey laws, there must be equality
before the laws, there should be and must be respect for individual rights, including property rights. And my support for due process and the rule of law is unwavering, even in the face of the criminal onslaught by some of our thieving officials. I have personally written position papers on the value, worth or benefits imbued in the concept of immunity from prosecution, and also its pitfalls, abuses. Some Nigerian officials have clearly turned immunity protection on its head!
But we must be fair and even handed, as we must ask these questions, in view of the enigmatic nature of these unfolding sagas! As thieving public officials seem to multiply in their numbers. What comes first? The chicken or is it the egg? The thieving governors are no respecter of the constitution of Nigeria, they are no respecter of the Code of Conduct Act, they observe no decency or commonsense morality. Those who come to equity, ought to come with clean hands!
It is amazing how, these same criminals and their cohorts, are ALWAYS the one, with superb knowledge of their ‘rights’ and constitutional protections! Thieving public officials in Nigeria have no respect for Biblical, Koranic or Talmudic injunctions!
How about the constitutional provisions and all the other Nigerian laws that forbids stealing, Corruption, Pillaging with brazen/blatant impunity?
How about all the Nigerian laws that require State Houses of Assembly, to impeach morons like Governor Dariye and Moron in chief Governor Alamieyesiegha?
And how about all the Nigerian laws and ethics that required these criminals to fund hospitals and roads and schools and other public infrastructures in their states?
Why was Bayelsa governor in hospital in Germany? Are there no medical doctors in Yenagoa Bayelsa? Nigerian doctors in New York are excellent doctors and they were trained in Nigeria! Why won’t these governors equip the hospitals? Do you know what is worse? He was in a German hospital for cosmetic surgery or liposuction, because he was TOO FAT! While most Nigerians have become compulsorily a fourth of their weight, as a result of malnutrition!
Bayelsa looks as if she unlucky to have Deputy Governor Goodluck Jonathan, what with his endless solidarities and effusive praises for the million pounds sterling man, who he praised as upholding democracy ideals and tenets? DG Jonathan sound like a robot!
Governor Alamieseyegha is indisposed, disabled and incapacitated by reason of health, continued absence and criminal impediments or encumbrance. He should be removed or impeached and sent to cool his heels in maximum security prison in Britain and Nigeria!