The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the leadership of the National Assembly to “immediately end the ongoing process aiming to change the constitution to shield the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and others from prosecution for corruption as this is tantamount to breaking the law.”
In a statement, Thursday, by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said “It is a huge setback for transparency and accountability and the rule of law that the same privileged and powerful leaders of parliament that regularly make laws that consign ordinary, powerless Nigerians to prison for even trivial offences yet again want to establish elite immunity to protect themselves from any consequences for serious crimes of corruption and money laundering: that is the Nigerian justice system in a nutshell. This is called breaking the law.”
“SERAP notes that this initiative by the leaders of the National Assembly is coming at a time countries like Guatemala has voted unanimously to strip their president of immunity from prosecution for corruption,” the group said.
“The message the leadership of the National Assembly is sending to us is clear: in Nigeria, powerful and influential actors must not be and are not subject to the rule of law. It’s simply not proper for lawmakers to be the chief advocates of immunity for corruption,” the group also said.
According to the group, “It’s a clear breach of public trust and a form of political corruption for the parliamentarians to abuse their legislative powers, intended for use in the general public interest but instead for personal advantage.
“This is an unacceptable proposition as it gives the impression that both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House and others are above the law.”
“If the leaders of the National Assembly should have their way, this will shield lawbreaking and corrupt Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives from any legal accountability and rob millions of Nigerians of their rights to accountable government,” the group said.
The group said that, “Public officials who are genuinely committed to the well-being of the state and its people, and to the establishment of an effective and functioning system of administration of justice, should have absolutely nothing to fear.”
The group also said that it “will work with other members of the civil society to vigorously challenge this gift of immunity against corruption and blatant breach of public trust by the National Assembly.”