Board Secretary and In-house legal Counsel, Idi Haladu Ali, has weighed in on the immunity clause debate, describing it as an asset in the democratic process.
Mr. Ali was the guest speaker at the November 30 School of Law seminar, where he spoke on “Is the concept of Immunity creating a class of people who are above the law or is it protection in the interest of Good governance, peace, and order?”--a topic that has been polarizing Nigerians in political discourse as election season draws near.
Mr. Ali urged mass and active participation in the democratic process to ensure that power granted by law for peace, order, and good governance is adhered to.
Explaining the concept and essence of immunity, he said the freedom from prosecution is to protect individuals who carry out some functions or have certain statuses from fear of embarrassing litigations and distractions.
He listed various types of immunity to include executive, parliamentary, judicial, and diplomatic, adding that executive immunity is, however, the most hotly debated in Nigeria.
“Many hold the view that preventing a court from exercising its jurisdiction due to immunity creates a class of people who are above the law. The various classes of immunity create a feeling of injustice and a breach of the republican principles that all are equal in the eyes of the law.”
As for parliamentary immunity, it does not cover the individual Member of Parliament in general terms like the governor or president. Instead, it is restricted to the specific function of legislation, in plenary and committee sessions.
He noted that immunity is essential for running a democratic system as it allows the benefiting government officials to do their jobs without fear of harassment. He said not having immunity can cause a state of chaos in the state.
“Without immunity, a governor can receive as much as five summons a day. You do not want that.”
He maintained, however, that there is an opportunity provided by the constitution for the impeachment of a governor or president, where their abuses of the immunity amount to gross misconduct.
One of the attendees, second-year Law major, Clinton Oguejiofor, described the presentation as another learning curve.
Interim Dean of SoL, Professor Lawal Ahmadu, said the seminar, which is a regular offering in the School of Law is meant to “enlighten the university community and to prick our intellectual reservoir of knowledge.”
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa