Judges have no immunity against arrest – Sagay

Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said yesterday that cash now dictates justice in the country.

Besides, the Constitution lawyer also said judges are not immune from arrests as there is no law granting such privilege. The Department of State Services (DSS) last weekend arrested some judges nationwide.

In a statement yesterday which contained his reaction, Sagay said the “expanding epidemic of judicial corruption” had destroyed the veil of invincibility judges once possessed.

“The searches of the premises of judges by the DSS is a sad development in our legal history brought about by inevitable circumstances.

“Although no judge had ever been subjected to search of premises and arrest, from the colonial period until recently, this was not because there was any law protecting judges’ immunity against arrest and criminal prosecution. Rather, it was based on a convention arising from the need to respect the dignity and sanctity of the judiciary.

“In other words, the practice of respect for members of the judiciary was a convention, not a binding Rule of Law. Members of the judiciary do not enjoy immunity against searches and arrests under any law. Therefore, the sustenance of sanctity of the person, office and residence of a judge depended on the continued maintenance by the judge of decorum, dignity, honesty and integrity.

“The explosive and expanding epidemic of judicial corruption, which has taken an alarming character since the 2007 elections, has totally overturned the culture of respect for the judiciary and brought the revered institution into disrepute and ignominy.

“The epic and corrosive nature of the problem has made the system expressly laid down for dealing with judicial indiscipline, that is, the National Judicial Council (NJC) system, totally ineffective. The level of moral depravity and the enormous number of culprits engaged in aggressive or rampaging corruption was just too much for the orthodox system of discipline to deal with.

“The amount of raw cash recovered in the process of the DSS searches is mind-boggling. We, therefore, have a situation in which a deadly disease was threatening the very existence of democracy and the Rule of Law.

“The question must be: do we take drastic and unprecedented steps to sanitise the judiciary and save the institution from those who are prepared to drag it and our democracy down for filthy lucre? Or do we twiddle our fingers in despair and let the shameful erosion and retrogression of a once famous and revered institution to go on?

“This is a country that once had one of the greatest judiciaries in the world. It now seems unbelievable that our judicial benches were once graced by legendary figures like J.I.C. Taylor, Louis Mbanefo, Joseph Adefarasin, Adetokunbo Ademola, Akinola Aguda, Anthony Aniagolu, Kayode Eso, Mohammed Bello, Chukwuweike Idigbe, Andrews Otutu Obaseki, Augustine Nnamani, Adolphos Karibi-Whyte and Chukwudifu Oputa. Between 1980 and 1990, we had an outstanding group of jurists in the Supreme Court, who created the golden age of the judiciary.

“What has happened between that dreamlike era and now is a rapid descent into the world of mammon, where cash dictates justice. With that degeneration of our judicial standards, our judicial ‘gods’ have descended from mount Olympus and joined the ranks of ordinary men and thus are suffering the fate of ordinary men.”

Nigerians Reject Immunity For Lawmakers

No fewer than 1,236 respondents, representing 59.6 per cent, in the six geopolitical zones have rejected extending immunity for leaders of the National and State Assemblies.

A total of 2,073 adults both male and female, cutting across various professions, rejected the idea in a nationwide survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The result of the random sampling, showed that only 293 people or 14 per cent approximately supported the proposal to extend immunity to the lawmakers while 76 people were undecided. Of the 18 respondents in Abuja, 15 opposed the suggestion to extend immunity to leaders of the legislative houses in the country.

NAN reports that only three persons reasoned that immunity should be extended to legislators to protect them from distraction.

Similarly, 12 people also opposed maintaining the status quo on immunity for governors, while six respondents said it should be maintained.

The survey, however, showed that 12 respondents advocated that immunity clause should be expunged from the constitution, while six people wanted it retained.

In the South-West, comprising Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, and Ekiti, 600 respondents were recorded.

Three hundred and sixty-six of that number, representing 61 per cent, opposed the inclusion of the leaders of Nation Assembly and their state counterparts in the immunity clause.

However, 36 per cent wanted them to be included in the immunity clause as provided by the Nigerian Constitution.

On immunity for governors, 419 people representing 69.8 per cent of the 600 respondents, opposed it while 165 people or 27.5 per cent supported the idea and the remaining were undecided.

In the North-East comprising Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and Yobe, the respondents overwhelmingly rejected extending immunity to leaders of the legislature.

NAN reports that of the 600 people sampled, 506 respondents or 84.3 per cent, said ‘No’, 32 people or 5.3 per cent voted ‘Yes’, while 62 others or 10.3 per cent were undecided.

On immunity for governors, 354 people or 59 per cent, voted ‘No’, 209 people or 34.8 per cent, supported it, while 37 people or 6.2 per cent declined comments.

Also, 339 people or 56.5 per cent, said immunity should be expunged from the constitution, 219 people or 36.5 per cent voted against, while 42 people or seven per cent were undecided.

In the South-East made up of Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra, and Enugu, the respondents also rejected any form of immunity for leaders of National Assembly and Houses of Assembly in a poll conducted among 100 respondents.

Twenty respondents in each of the states approved the current immunity being enjoyed by state governors.

However, 77 respondents voted against immunity for legislators, while 15 respondents voted in its favour and eight respondents undecided.

Fifty three respondents supported immunity for governors while 42 people said no and five were undecided.

Similarly, 47 respondents voted that Section 308 of the constitution which provides for immunity for governors should not be expunged while 41 want it expunged with eight undecided.

In North-West, 155 people or 56.7 per cent voted that governors should continue to enjoy immunity, while 65 others voted against it in Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, kebbi, Jigawa, Zamfara and Katsina states.

NAN reports that of the 273 questionnaires administered in Kano, Kebbi and Sokoto, 165 respondents or 60.4 per cent, said that immunity clause should not be expunged.

Ninety-four people from the three states in the zone voted against the inclusion of leaders of the legislative houses in the clause.

In North-Central, comprising Plateau, Benue, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger, all respondents unanimously rejected the extension of immunity to leaders of the legislative houses.

Also, 98 respondents supported immunity for governors to protect them from distractions while in office, while only two persons were undecided on the issue.

In the South-South states of Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Edo and Delta, majority of the respondents opposed any form of immunity for legislators.

Credit: Guardian

Immunity Can’t Stop Fayose’s Prosecution- Aisha Buhari

The wife of the president, Hajia Aisha Buhari, has said that Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State cannot hide under the cover of immunity to avoid prosecution from several alleged criminal offences.
Her position is contained in her statement of claims filed before an FCT High Court in the defamation suit challenging Governor Fayose’s allegation linking her with the Harliburton bribery scandal in the United States.

Fayose’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had in a reply to Mrs Buhari’s pre-action notice on July 8, stated that under Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, no civil or criminal action may be brought against the governor while in office, advising her to wait till 2018.
But in the statement filed by her counsel, Ismaila Alasa and Mary Ekpere Eta, the president’s wife cited criminal charges on the murder of one Tunde Omojola, diversion of N1.2bn state funds in 2004 and the invasion of the Ekiti High Court with thugs who allegedly beat up a judge in 2014 as some of the governor’s ‘indiscretions’.
“The first defendant (Fayose) is a well-known coward who is scared of facing the consequences of his numerous indiscretions and sheer acts of criminality by timidly hiding under the cloak of immunity to want to evade prosecution,” she averred.
Meanwhile, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi has approved the service of the court papers to Fayose and his two aides- his chief press secretary, Idowu Adelusi and his special adviser on New Media, Lere Olayinka at the Government House, Ado Ekiti as the legal dispute proceeded in the week.
The judge directed service of the processes on the defendants by DHL courier service and publication in an online media platform.
Aisha Buhari, who has lined up 205 witnesses against Fayose, is seeking N5bn as damages over the statements.

Credit: DailyTrust

Nigerian Lawmakers’ Immunity Proposal Satanic– Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has criticized a proposed life pension and immunity from prosecution for Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and other presiding officers of the National Assembly.

In a statement Sunday, Mr. Falana described the proposal as insensitive, irrational, and immoral.

“Indeed, it is the height of insensitivity for legislators to propose life pension for their leaders at a time that workers are owed arrears of salaries in many states of the federation,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

The lawmakers, at the end of a two-day retreat on constitution review on Saturday, took the decision to shield its presiding officers, as well as those of state Houses of Assemblies, from prosecution.

They argued that since the other two arms of government – executive and judiciary – are enjoying immunity, the third arm ought to follow suit.

Mr. Saraki is currently facing prosecution for forgery and false and anticipatory assets declaration, while Ike Ekweremadu, his deputy, is being tried for forgery.

The proposal came amidst allegations of sexual misconduct against three Nigerian lawmakers by the United States government during the lawmakers’ visit to Cleveland for the International Visitor Leadership Programme.

Mohammed Gololo (APC, Bauchi) was accused of grabbing a hotel maid and soliciting sex, while Samuel Ikon (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) and Mark Gbillah (APC, Benue) allegedly requested a car park attendant to help them secure the services of prostitutes.

Mr. Falana said the lawmakers’ proposal to shield their presiding officers from prosecution is “provocative.”

“No serious nation can grant immunity to legislators who have been linked with criminal diversion of public funds, forgery and rape,” he said.

“We can assure the concerned members of the public that the satanic proposals of the legislators will not succeed.

“It is pertinent to inform the legislators that the members of the human rights community have resolved to mobilize the Nigerian people to reject both proposals.”

Credit: PremiumTimes

Olalekan Waheed: Immunity Or Impunity Clause?

Some months ago, the Lekki home of Senator-elect Buruji Kashamu was barricaded by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) reportedly to arrest the “wanted drug baron” at the request of the United States Government. As soon as his house was barricaded by NDLEA men, the debate started about the “legality” of his impending arrest. Many of those in the senator’s support cited his “immunity” being a senator, even though he was then yet to be sworn in.

As usual there were no shortages of emergency “public affairs analysts” speaking for or against the “arrest” of the senator. I simply avoided contributing to the matter at that period because all that mattered to me then was for the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (as he was then known) to be sworn in. So, Kashamu’s case was the least of my concerns!

Only recently, a certain Leo Ogor who is the Minority Leader in the House of Representatives came up with a shocker: there should be Immunity clause to cover the National Assembly too. I had to convince myself to be sure this man wasn’t speaking from excessive dosage of alcoholic beverage for him to ejaculate this (for want of more appropriate words to describe it) trash. One wonders with clowns and drug barons like Kashamu in the Senate and other fraudsters who have numerous cases of corruption against them, including the Principal Officers, that Ogor specifically solicited immunity for, how the so-called immunity will not translate to impunity!

Still on Ogor, let me quote him (I am assuming The Vanguard reporter got him right): “If the head of the executive arm, the President and his vice should enjoy immunity, the heads of the other two arms of government, the legislature and the judiciary, should also benefit from the immunity”(The Vanguard 5 October, 2015).

Let us agree with this man for a moment that the Principal Officers at the National Assembly in fact need not be distracted, hence deserves immunity. Let us equally accept without conceding that members of the National Assembly are in fact the “Honourables” they are taken to be so should be excused from prosecution during their tenure in office. What baffles me is that how then will be account for offences committed before some of them fraudulently joined the House? What happens to persons with questionable integrity who find their way into the House hence bringing it to disrepute? Should they also be granted immunity? If this last class of people have immunity, we can easily conclude that they will commit acts of impunity!

Was Ogor talking about “Parliamentary Immunity”? I have heard it said by one of the lawyers who as a guest panellist on a national television station during the Kashamu saga that after being sworn in, he is immune from arrest or prosecution because of “parliamentary immunity”. Oh my God!

I am not a lawyer but I know this man must have either been poorly educated or he is just doing his best to look stupid. If there is anything I know about Parliamentary Immunity, as the name connotes, is that the immunity covers only “offences” or speeches committed during parliamentary debates or committee meetings. This has little to do with criminal prosecutions!

The issue of parliamentary immunity started in England during the Glorious Revolution that led to the adoption of the English Bill of Rights in 1689 sharply limited this practice by granting immunity to members against civil or criminal action stemming from the performance of their legislative duties. The Bill provided that “the Freedom of Speech, and Debates or Proceedings in Parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parliament.”

In the United States, parliamentary immunity preserves the independence of the legislature by reinforcing the Baron de Montesquieu’s principle of separation of powers, thereby, preventing intimidation of legislators by the executive, and protecting parliamentarians from unwarranted appearances before a possibly hostile judiciary. So much so for parliamentary immunity!

Ogor and people like him need to hear this. The most important thing in applying parliamentary immunity is whether the legislator’s actions fall within the “sphere of legitimate legislative activity.” There are actions a legislator may take, even when s/he is engaging in activities related to s/he legislative office, that do not fall within this sphere. If an action is not a legitimate legislative activity, the legislator is not protected by legislative immunity. Nothing in granting parliamentary immunity to National Assembly members prevent them from arrests save from, performing their legislative duties.

When we say, “legislative duties” we mean: actions that a legislator takes during formal legislative proceedings, such as chairing a committee, debating, making motions, and voting; legislative committee investigations; impeachment proceedings; enacting and enforcing legislative rules and others. Also, a legislator is “immune” from arrest on his way to, or from a parliamentary proceeding; committee meeting or any other official legislative function(s) or for whatever he said or has done on the floor of the parliament. This is how far the issue of parliamentary immunity goes. Any other thing which people like Ogor are asking for will only end in impunity!

So, as to whether Kashamu can be arrested while serving his term in the senate, I say “Yes” with all the emphasis I can muster because parliamentary immunity does not extend to activities or “crimes” committed outside legislative spheres. But my question is: Will they ever arrest him, even if he were not in the Senate covered by the so-called “parliamentary immunity” this “charge and bail” lawyer referred to? This is the impunity we talk about this time represented by people like Leo Ogor!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN, a political analyst and strategist, writes from Lagos.

adgorwell@gmail.com

+2348136502040, +2347081901080

Twitter: @adgorwell

He blogs for http://olalekanadigun.com/

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

#Pausibility: Tribute To Diezani. Shame on You! Shame on Me!!

DIEZANI

 

There is a poem I composed for SM Afolabi at his passing. For the  2000s kids that only see their seniors carrying what is called National ID Cards, that man was instrumental. It is no disheartening to some of us that every Nigerian project is riddled with one scam or the other. Afolabi happened to be one of the scammers of the National Identity Card project. Enjoy the poem a below:

 

 AT THE FUNERAL OF SM

Mind fluttered

Heart slipped

Eyes reddened

Well of tears

Body wrecked with pains

Hear connotative messages

As your furnace emerge.

Never you live your life

Like this.

You can’t be a better model

If you continue like this.

Truly you made me lose

My identity

You gulped my pockets

You made everyone reeks of your smell

Why the tears?

No! No!! it is no tear of pain

But of great joy

As I watch your last

Burns in furnace.

I used to hide under St Moritz(SM) in my naivety of the potent of arts until I learned that I can claim poetic licence to free myself from the likes of @Govsia who will not get to deliver quality service to their electors instead chose to get busy with pettiness and non-issues. On this occasion of #WorldTeachersDay I will appeal to the non-petty side of the Governor of Ogun state to recall that teacher he summarily dismissed on the issue of mere English composition and also to use his office prerogative of mercy to release the blogger whose bail he frustrated last week. After all, his wife is not being held in the UK like our pretty DAM.

When the news broke last week that Madam Diezani Alison-Madueke has been arrested alongside other four unidentified accomplices we all jumped on the streets celebrating with the same vigour we celebrated the death of the greatest wolf that ever lived in Aso Rock (the greatest fox that ever lived in Aso Rock now lives in Minna). Spontaneously, I joined in that celebration too but on a closer look I see that I have no shame just as Diezani and the rest of us.

“How can a sane human being STEAL that much even to the detriment of herself?” is the popular rhetoric. Just as the rhetoric: She IS mad. Her fontanelle needs to be checked and maybe we should ask her mother if she ever palpated her daughter’s head at all? Madam is brilliant no doubt but I must summon this courage to tell her family that Madam is one of the rarest dark angels lurking between earth and hell and possibly ranking side by side Lucifer himself. And if her family already knows, this is a double confirmation of the quality of their breadwinner. If you want to contest that then I will refer you to visit the bottomless pit of hell and see things yourself.

Good, we are all glad that Ma’am DAM will have to face the consequence(s) of her actions while she sat as the de facto lord of the oil. We express the joys that she would not be able to buy justice at all unlike the cheap rate that it is being sold for in our courts here. We are jubilating that every kobo that she has stolen will be unearthed through ‘sufficient’ forensic audit and will be repatriated to us so that we can use the fund judiciously for the benefits of all. That is a good streak only the likes of Buhari can attain.

But on a closer look, when is the rest of us going to face the consequences of our actions? A country that will do nothing to overhaul her obsolete systems and institutions will always throng up dark angels like the Iboris, Alamieseghas, Diezanis, Akpabios, Sarakis, et al.

A judicial system that an accused can determine the space and the choice of court(s) for his or her trial through the screwing of what some ‘Senior Advocates of Nonsence’ would call lacuna that were provided either by the current sickening constitution or by the rusty writs of the colonial masters that we still gladly refer to as legal codes.

A financial system that would not send red alert on perpetual pilfering of state funds. And a judicial system where someone will steal billions of naira and will walk away as a free man after being properly fined the minutest of the minutest of the minutest fraction of what he embezzled.

A justice system where anyone can walk into a court and secure an ex parte motion making him a nebulous being that MUST not be investigated not to talk of being arrested for whatever crime he/she may have committed.

That is why a man will think because he is the Senate President he can go unruly to a call from a ‘small court’.

That is why a man will build a world class medical centre with public fund then checked himself into another hospital in a foreign land after almost killing someone in his empty’bigmanness’ to simple traffic rule then come back to taunt his people the more with an explanation that he deliberately disobeyed the traffic light because he was rushing to catch up with a plane to travel to his daughter who was studying abroad. Without littlest recourse of shame. Yet his people will hail him forgetting the lifetime sorrow they will be enveloped in because their messiah had stockpiled the bale of dollars that were to be used to give them better life in his bunkers.

That is why…

If you don’t know let me bring it to your notice, Bukky is likely to get immunity before October 21st making him untouchable by any court of the land for the next four years at least.

We have failed to make our institution work in tandem to our present realities.

Shame on you. Shame on me.

 

 

Nigerians Reject Immunity For Senate President, Speaker

Mixed reactions have trailed the proposal by the national assembly to grant immunity to its presiding officers? with many Nigerians describing the move as unnecessary and Ill timed.

The minority leader of the House of Representatives Hon. Leo Ogor was quoted as saying that the national assembly was proposing to amend the constitution to grant immunity to the presiding officers as well as the head of the judiciary as enjoyed by the president and his vice and governors and their deputy.

According to a lawyer, Barrister Manasseh Ejiofor, the proposal was uncalled for and smacks “legislative rascalism?”

“Why are they bringing up the issue of immunity now? Whose interest are they serving? There are so many issues for the national assembly to address the least of which is the issue of immunity for its presiding officers. They should concentrate on making laws for the benefit of Nigerians and not their selfish selves.

“For instance, why can’t the national amend some of our laws that are obviously regain and needs to be brought in tune with modern realities. Granting immunity to the presiding officers of the National Assembly is the least problem that we have now. It is being done in bad faith” he said.

Read More: vanguardngr