The Senate yesterday distanced itself from plans by the House of Representatives to grant immunity to lawmakers in the country, saying such proposal would be rejected by the Senate.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinaya Abaribe, told journalists at a Senate briefing that the immunity sought after by the House of Reps was misplaced, as the current Legislative Powers and Privileges Act had granted adequate immunity.
Last week, a bill sponsored by Rep Ali Ahmed (Kwara, PDP) seeking to amend the 1999 constitution to grant immunity to lawmakers in the country passed second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives. The supporters of the bill are of the opinion that it would strengthen the democracy as lawmakers would be able to speak without fear of molestation or litigation.
However, Abaribe said, “I think the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act has already given every legislator immunity for whatever you say on the floor, so that is already a settled law and fact.
“The immunity bill has not been brought before the Senate yet. I would be surprised if someone is asking for immunity outside the chambers. Why would anyone want to ask for such? Because we won’t grant such immunity.
“I do not think it will pass the floor of the Senate, because whatever you say inside there, it is already covered under the Privileges Act. If we see such a bill, then we would consider the merits and what anyone will bring to us, saying what we have now is inadequate, that is when we will consider the bill.”
He ended by saying that no legislator should seek immunity for whatever he does outside the chambers of the parliament.