Presidents, governors to lose immunity in constitutional amendment

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If the House of Representatives get their way in the new constitution being drawn up, governors and the president will have their immunity from prosecution while in office withdrawn.

This is one of the recommendations contained in the report of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution which is scheduled to be laid on the floor of the House today.

According to a member of the committee who declined being named since the report is yet to be debated in the house, the report has also recommended that the current two terms of four years each, in contrast to the Senate’s position which is pushing for a single-six year tenure.

The committee which is headed by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Emeke Ihedioha also recommended that a definite uniform tenure be provided for all local government officeholders across the country in line with the request of the Nigerian public.

This general opinion was arrived at after the committee held people’s public sessions in all 360 federal constituencies to collect input of the public on constitution amendment, the results of which were announced in a public presentation at the National Assembly earlier this year.

Key elements in the template used for the opinion gathering exercise include the granting of full autonomy, including financial autonomy, to local government administrations and removal of immunity against prosecution from the president, vice president, governors and their deputies, , particularly as ıt relates to criminal offences.

Others include rotation of the office of the president, scrapping of state independent electoral commissions (SIECs), state creation, state police as well as autonomy to state legislatures.

Meanwhile, the House has also mandated its committees on Appropriations and Finance to examine the various budgetary systems Nigeria currently operates and make recommendations to the House to enable it design a more appropriate budgeting system.

This is part of efforts by the House to do away with the envelope system of budgeting which restricts ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to an expenditure ceiling every year.

The decision was reached after the lawmakers passed a resolution of a motion sponsored by the chairman, House committee on Human Rights, Hon. Beni Lar, in which the lawmaker condemned the practice and harped on the need to review the envelope budgeting system which, she said, was counter-productive to the economy.

Lar argued  that the  MDAs were usually  not given the opportunity of presenting their views and initiatives that would increase or decrease their expenditure  ceiling, thereby creating avoidable hindrance to   the implementation  of the budget yearly.

Similarly, the House yesterday passed a bill which seeks to authorize the roll-over of unspent capital expenditure of the MDAs in a financial year to the next financial year under the same heads through second reading.

Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Karimi Sunday argued, while explaining the general principles of the bill, that there was an urgent need to support continuity in project execution to prevent abandonment of critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria.

He added that, when passed, it would boost the confidence and encourage government contractors to seek funds to complete their projects.

 

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