The Retention Of The Immunity Clause In The Nigerian Constitution Is A Mockery

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

I have always believed that the continued retention of the immunity clause in the Abdulsalami sponsored Nigerian Constitution that was handed over as a “fait accompli” to Obasanjo upon his election as President in May 1999, is to me, a total mockery of Obasanjo’s current War against Corruption in our country.

The greatest pen robbers in our country have, by that provision, been given a license, if not a free ride to steal as much they want while in office. These pen robbers includes the most powerful politicians and public officials in our system including the President himself, as Head of State, and each of the 36 State Governors without exception.

If I were President Obasanjo and I was determined to fight Corruption, like he said he would, on taking his oath of office, my priority would have been to use all the leverage I have to convince my Party the majority Party at both Federal and State levels to get ready to give me the 2/3 majority I would need in each State to have the immunity provision expunged with immediate effect. That would have been my first order of business. Obasanjo is fighting a war he cannot win for as long as that obnoxious provision remains the supreme Law of our country. Laws are made for human beings not the other way round. If any Law is not working for us, the way out is to change the Law. Our Legislature has an oversight responsibility to act, if our holier than thou President

will not. President Obasanjo should have acted sooner, if he is to be taken seriously.

President Obasanjo did not do that. He had spent much of his first term looking the other way for all the pen robbers in Nigeria to use their first four years to loot the Government treasuries under their control. That inertia notwithstanding, Obasanjo and his PDP still won a landslide victory thru massive rigging in 2003. If the current highest office holders enjoy immunity, what do you say about the President attitude to the list of Nigerian billionaires and multi millionaires recently published in the Financial Times for all to see around the world. Are those former office holders like IBB and the rest of them also immune from prosecution? That is a legitimate question to ask.

Governor Dariye and now Alamieyeseigha the Bayelsa State Governors have both jumped bail in an effort to avoid being jailed in the UK, and have escaped to Nigeria where their iniquities and criminality are subject to immunity from prosecution, and our President says he is fighting Corruption. The two Governors are going to live happily hereafter, and the Nigerian criminal system can hardly lift a finger against them! What a country? I just wonder what kind of role models are those Governors for the law-abiding citizens of their States, and for other Nigerians in general. President Obasanjo and the Scotland Yard that have granted bail to the criminally minded Governor must be feeling terribly embarrassed today that it has been fooled. But the great losers in all of this are law-abiding Nigerians in the UK who are, forever, tainted by the criminal behavior of the Governors. Any Court in England today would think twice in offering bail privileges to any Nigerian accused of any crime. If a Governor can do what the Bayelsa Governor and Dariye have now done, the case can be made that any Nigerian can do the same. It is a big shame that we all should be concerned about!

President Obasanjo, if he does not want to be viewed as a joker (and a big accomplice in all of these shameful behavior) ought to do something about removing the immunity clause from our Constitution with immediate effect. The clause was added to begin with to forestall frivolous litigations from going forward to distract our President and Governors and Deputy Governors from performing the jobs to which they have been elected. We now know that was only a criminal decoy. The goal was to make it totally impossible to punish corrupt practices on the part of our leaders, both past and present. It is a no-win situation for Nigeria, and I am ashamed of this development, and so should all of us.

I rest my case.

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Anonymous January 7, 2006 - 11:44 am

I really want to thank the author and to commend him for the is a locus classicus.the immunity lause in our constitution has been the bane of this has really eaten deep into the fabrics of this nationif at all we've attained nationhoodin all ramifications.we need to tell them-the powers that be-that what we need is honest and conscientious government that trully understands the nitty gritty,and concept of government.–

Anonymous December 30, 2005 - 6:41 pm

this is a view held by most of the nigerian populace both literate and non literate alike. only a few have the guts of coming out point blank and hitting the nail on the head about what and how they feel.

what nigerians generally need is an opportunity to be educated in some matters, imagine when Diepriye came back from exile he being given a royal welcome. this only goes a long way to show how far nigerians are yet to be informed in some matters that really concern them and their children.

Anonymous November 24, 2005 - 7:07 am

Obasanjo removing the immunity clause for everyone including himself, and the clause that permits the EFCC to report to him rather than the parliament and police will be a step futher to prove if he himself is free of corruption . Besides, if he will restitute the Otta land he took from the natives of Otta, the land for his bell schools, the land for his library, and the tractors and farm equipments he imported for OFN which later became properties of Obasanjo Farms Nigeria , If he retuns the oil wells he gave to Gbenga and the foreign exchange he gave Muiwa to buy houses abroad. I believe he will cement his name on the history books as the greatest fighter of corruption .

Anonymous November 24, 2005 - 3:28 am

The most famous cruise ship and the most ill-fated. On it's maiden voyage, the Titanic, once called "Unsinkable" by it's builders, struck an iceberg. Less than Three Hours Later, it was on the bottom of the sea along with almost 1500 men, women, and children. On "full speed astern" and "hard a' starboard", slowly the ship began to turn. Nigeria is huge.

Anonymous November 23, 2005 - 7:25 pm

Thanks for your unbiased and untribalistic reporting…All criminals should be punished not some …but all !!!


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