This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
IMMUNITY FOR NASS LEADERS: WE SMELL A RAT
13th July, 2016
IMMUNITY FOR NASS LEADERS:
WE SMELL A RAT
There was pandemonium in
the House of Representatives yesterday when members debated a bill seeking to
amend Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution which confers immunity on the
executive arm of the Nigerian government. The sponsor of the bill is proposing
immunity for leaders and principal officers of the House.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects this attempt to
shield lawmakers from the law made by them. It is despicable, outrageous and
preposterous. Simply put, it is legislative rascality. This legislature will go
down in history as the most controversial, most self-centered and most
Coming at a time when
the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) is facing court trial over
criminal charges, the timing of the bill is not only suspect, it is also
infantile and provocative. The proposed bill is self-serving and politically
motivated. Its authors seek to gain from the bend what they could not get from
the straight. This bill belongs to the dustbin of history.
The NASS is taking
Nigerians for a ride. We will not allow that to happen. The proposed bill is a
reactionary measure. It is designed to take Nigeria back to the Stone Age.
Bothered by the concentration of too much power being wielded by presidents,
democracies around the world are seeking to remove immunity even from the
The supreme court of Guatemala
successfully stripped its president of immunity in September 2015. How can
Nigerian legislators turn themselves into tin gods at a time like this? It had
better not be. Whoever wants to enjoy the immunity clause should go to his state
and contest for governorship.
We are aware that in the
year 2013 a committee of the same House recommended the expunging of the
immunity clause for the president and his vice in order to check executive
lawlessness. What happened between then and now? How can the present House
confer immunity on those who hitherto did not enjoy it? We smell a rat.
It is a calculated assault on two of the basic principles of
democracy, namely, probity and accountability.The
masses are being skinned alive. First, we cannot hold the executive arm of
government accountable until after the end of its tenure and now, the
legislature wants to dig in deep. It is not only daylight robbery but also an
attempt to subject the citizenry to the tyranny of Draconian legislation. Those
who make the law must submit themselves to the same law. Only thus can they
have a taste of the pudding.
The refusal of the Speaker of the House to subject the bill
to a voice vote is undemocratic and most condemnable. Honourable Dogara wants
to turn Nigeria into a huge Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some
are more equal than others.
The conduct of some of the members of Senate is equally
disgraceful. The alleged use of vulgar language by Senator Dino Melaye and his alleged
threat to beat up a female colleague in the House is most unbecoming of the
status of a parliamentarian and a distinguished senator for that matter. His
belligerence constitutes a threat to the continued involvement of Nigerian
women in politics.
MURIC calls on female politicians and feminists across the
country to speak up on this unprovoked assault on womanhood. The Senate
President must call Melaye to order. In addition, female members in the NASS
must insist on getting an apology from Melaye.
To sum up, we charge the
House of Representatives to throw out the self-serving and politically
motivated bill. We urge Nigerian lawmakers to avoid widening the disconnect
between them and the electorate, desist from unnecessary confrontation with the
executive and adhere to international best practices in parliamentary matters.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)