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Senate Says Will Strike Down Bill On Full Immunity For Lawmakers

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... Hail Sack Of Demuren

ABUJA, March 12, (THEWILL) - The Senate Tuesday alerted the House of Representatives that the proposed full immunity Bill for lawmakers which the lower House approved for second last week will not pass at the Senate.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe told a press conference in Abuja that the immunity granted by the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act was adequate enough, hence "seeking further immunity was misplaced".

The House of Representatives Bill seeks to amend the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to grant immunity for legislators in the country.

Advocates of immunity for lawmakers argued that it would not only strengthen democracy but will allow members to speak freely without fear of molestation or litigation.

However, Abaribe said, "I think that the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act already gives every legislator immunity for whatever you say on the floor of the chamber, so that is already a settled law and fact. It (immunity Bill) has not been brought to the floor of the Senate yet... I will be very surprised if somebody is asking for immunity outside of the chambers of the National Assembly. Why will anybody ask for such because we do not want to grant anybody such immunity?

"I do not think that will pass the floor of the Senate, because whatever you say inside there, is already covered under the Privileges Act… No legislator should seek immunity outside the chamber for whatever he does outside of the parliament."

On the 2013 budget, Abaribe disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan has submitted signed copies of the budget to Senators adding that in the coming days Senators will be cross-checking the signed budget to ensure that the signed copies reflects what was passed including the legislative amendments.

Abaribe allayed fears of reported moves by International Oil Companies (IOCs) to corner Senators in a bid to frustrate the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). He said the Senate would pass a PIB that will be of utmost interest of Nigerians.

In reaction to Monday’s sack of the Director General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Harold Demuren, following a National Assembly resolution, Abaribe said, "Nobody in this country is indispensable".