The proposed bill by Hon. Leo Ogor to have the principal officers of the National Assembly included in the immunity clause engendered tense arguments among Federal Lawmakers.
The bill, seeking an alteration of Section 308 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, to provide immunity for the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and presiding officers of state Houses of Assembly.
Noting that only the President, Vice President, Governors and their deputies presently enjoy immunity, the Minority leader of the House of Reps, Leo Ogor called for the amendment of the Section 308.
Ogor, who harped on the need to establish the independence of the legislative arm of government, argued that immunity would protect the presiding officers from unnecessary distractions.
“We are all seeing what is happening in the Senate, with the Senate President and his Deputy.”
Hon.Leo Ogor said that if both presiding officers have to appear in court, the Senate would not be able to sit.
His argument was buttressed by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai who noted that the current constitution was produced by the military governments and therefore only takes the interest of the Executive into account.
“It behoves on us, the National Assembly members, to protect the institution, when you protect the legislature, you protect the people, and it is the people who mandated the Executive to implement laws.”
The Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila however objected, stressing that in other climes, heads of parliament do not enjoy immunity. He argued that even if it would work, the timing was wrong especially now that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki is facing trials.
This sparked a rowdy session in the House for about 30 minutes with proceedings stalled because of the pandemonium. The Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara abruptly ended debate and referred the bill to the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Amendment headed by the Deputy Speaker,Yussuff Lasun.