From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
Senate yesterday rejected a bill from the House of Representatives which seeks to confer immunity on lawmakers, same as that enjoyed by governors as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution. Last week, the House debated a bill requesting for the inclusion of Legislative Powers and Privileges Act in the Constitution and it scaled the crucial second reading.
Senate spokesman Enyinnaya Abaribe conveyed the decision of the Upper Legislative Chamber to newsmen yesterday. Saying that though the immunity bill was yet to be presented to the Senate for concurrence, it would be a surprise for any lawmaker to seek immunity outside the chambers of the National Assembly. “I will be very surprised if somebody is asking for immunity outside the chambers of the National Assembly.
Why would anybody ask for such? We do not want to grant anybody such immunity. I don’t think that will pass on any floor”, he said. Similarly, Chairman of the Investment Committee, Senator Nenadi Esther Usman said lawmakers should rather concern themselves with enacting people-oriented legislations rather than looking for immunity for themselves.
“Come to think of it, if we talk about immunity for governors and Nigerians are not comfortable with it, maybe, we shouldn’t start talking about immunity for legislators as well because we are representatives of the people and I think we should make laws that people should be comfortable with…” The Senate also applauded the removal of the former Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren.
Last year, the National Assembly joint committee on Aviation urged President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Demuren due to alleged negligence and incompetence following the crash of Dana aircraft on June 3 which killed all passengers and crew. Senate, however, believed that the Presidency only took its time to effect the demand of the National Assembly.
“I have cleared the air here to say that when we pass things to the executive, we have to give them time to work through their own processes and necessarily, those processes may take a little while, but there is no doubt that the Senate has taken a stand on the aviation sector and some resolutions were taken.” Senator Abaribe maintained that nobody is indispensable in the country. According to him, professionals abound in every aspect of the country’s national life.
The Senate, again, dismissed insinuations that it has been treating the executive with kids’ gloves. “I do not agree that the President has not been alive to his responsibility.” Also yesterday, Senate confirmed the appointment of five commissioners for the Federal Civil Service. They are Dr. (Mrs.) Ngoze Agatha Etolue (Anambra) representing Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states,
Hope Odhuluma Ikiriko (Rivers) representing Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states as well as Prof. Aminu Diyo Sheidu (Kogi State), who represents Kogi and Kwara. Others are Mr. Emmanuel Chimezie Ihedioha (Abia), representing Imo and Abia bloc and Mr. Joseph Olufemi Akande, (Osun State), representing Osun and Oyo states.