- Another billl that qualifies criminal liabilities for president, governors passes second reading
By Chuks Okocha and Deji Elumoye
A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to provide for the amendment of Sections 65 (2) (a), 131 (d), Section 106 (c) and Section 177 (d), and to provide for a Higher National Diploma as the minimum qualification for election into the National and States Assembly, Office of the President and Governors, and other related matters, Thursday passed second reading at the Senate.
The bill sponsored by Gyang Istifanus Dung representing Plateau North was referred to committee on constitution review headed by Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.
The bill specifically stated that to be elected President or a governor, the person must possess a minimum of a Higher National Diploma or a National Diploma.
Others bills sent to constitutional review committee include, bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to qualify criminal liability for certain public officers under Section 308 and for related matters, 2020 (SB. 322) This bill intends to ensure public officers who commit criminal offences can be prosecuted while in office.
The bill to strip the President or governor criminal liabilities while in office passed second reading and was referred to the constitution review committee.
According to the bill, sitting Presidents will no longer enjoy immunity in criminal matters if the alteration being proposed to the 1999 Constitution by the Senate is passed and assented by the President
Also to lose immunity is the Vice President, Governors and their deputies in the impending alteration.
This followed the second reading of a Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to qualify criminal liability for certain public officers under Section 308” sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
The explanatory memorandum of the Bill said, “This act provides for qualification of the immunity clause to exclude immunity for Public Officers referred to in Section 308 from criminal liability where the offence involves misappropriation of funds belonging to the Federal, State or Local Government and also the use of thugs to foment violence.”
In the 1999 constitution, section 308 as amended reads: “(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section –
“(a) no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;
“(b) a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of
“(c) no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued:
“Provided that in ascertaining whether any period of limitation has expired for the purposes of any proceedings against a person to whom this section applies, no account shall be taken of his period of office.
“(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.
“(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.”
The new bill says that a President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors shall lose their immunity if they are investigated by security and anti-graft agencies, including the courts.
The Bill said in part that: “Section 308 of the Principal Act is altered by (a) Substituting for subsection (2), a new subsection “(2)” –
“(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply –
“(a) to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party; and
“(b) to persons who hold the office of Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor, if it is determined either by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Nigerian Police and State Security Service through a collaborative investigation that the said person is indicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for:
“(i) Financial misappropriation of funds belonging to the Federal, State or Local Government; or
“(ii) Sponsoring of thugs to perpetrate violence that cause injury or death of political opponent, a member of his family, agent or personal representative.”