A Case for Retention of the #ImmunityClause in the Constitution~ @dejiajare

General, News

It is understandable that some people are calling for the removal of the ‘immunity clause’ in the Nigerian Constitution to be expunged, but despite this disenchantment, we must finally let reason prevail.

The rationale behind the inclusion of the clause originally is to prevent a situation where the heads of the executive will be unable to concentrate on their primary functions of governance as a result of litigation. Some of which, rightly, may be unnecessary and vexatious.

It is my opinion, that the real problem is not the immunity clause per se, but the general Nigerian problem, corruption. I see absolutely nothing wrong with waiting till a Governor, his deputy or a President and his Vice leave office to prosecute them for offences committed during or before commencement of their tenures in office.

Thankfully, for the purpose of limitation of time within which to prosecute for an offence or sue for an action or inaction of occupiers of these offices, time does not start counting until their tenures end.

Again, the courts have held that the immunity clause does not extend to or cover investigation, thus, nothing stops the state security agencies or ‘private investigators’ from performing their investigative functions based on allegations against a person holding such office.

Besides, if all is well, sometimes, it may be instructive to take time before prosecuting, such that thorough investigation could have been carried out, evidence obtained and preserved In order to make a water-tight case.

The reason for the inclusion of the clause is still here with us and knowing the ways of politicians, a flood of litigation will immediately succeed any swearing in of a new elected Government, state or federal. We can glean this even from election petitions that come in their barrage post elections. Sometimes, these petitions are even embarrassing and until the last Constitution amendment could just go on and on. Making it difficult for the elected leader to effectively carry out his/her functions, eventually, this tells on the quality of lives of the citizens.

When weighed on a balance of convenience, the need to retain the immunity clause definitely takes precedence.