Senators’ proposal for life pension, immunity for Saraki, Dogara self-serving —SERAP

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has strongly condemned as “self-serving and despicable the demand by some senators for immunity and life pension for presiding officers of the National Assembly after their tenure in office.”

SERAP’s statement followed the proposal by the senators, at a two-day retreat on Constitution Review, organised by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Constitution Review, in Lagos, on Saturday.

Among others, the proposal want presiding officers, such as the President of the Senate, Deputy President of Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives to enjoy life pension and immunity, since the executive and judiciary are enjoying same.

But SERAP in a statement, on Sunday, by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni said, “The retreat by the senators and representative was titled ‘Towards Ensuring Governance Accountability in Nigerian Federalism.’

It noted, however, that “their grand strategy is the calculated use of legislative powers to alter the 1999 Constitution in their own favour, so that they can enjoy life benefits at the expense of millions of economically and socially disadvantaged Nigerians who voted them into office.”

The statement read in part: “SERAP calls on the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara to show leadership and refocus the National Assembly to be able to perform their law-making functions in a manner that will rid the country of impunity for corruption and not embrace or tolerate it.”

Speaker, Kwara State Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad, at the weekend in Lagos, had made a submission at the final session of the retreat on Review of the 1999 Constitution, organised by the Senate tagged: “Towards Ensuring Governance Accountability in Nigerian Federalism” that the immunity for criminal prosecution being currently enjoyed by the President and State governors should be extended to the Senate President and his Deputy, Speaker, House of Representatives and his Deputy, and the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly.

In his submission which was approved by the forum, the Speaker argued that currently, two of the three arms of government, heads of the executive and of the judiciary enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution until the end of their tenures.

He argued further that the immunity be either extended to presiding officers for the limited period of their tenures or be withdrawn from everybody.