Constitutional immunity clause and the fight against corruption in Nigeria
One of the most pressing debates in Nigeria today is on the continued retention, or removal, of the immunity clause enshrined in section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Some scholars canvass for the removal of the immunity clause because its retention, they argue, appears ironic in view of the stance of the government to rid governance of corrupt practices, including misappropriation of public funds. Others have called for its retention while another set of scholars further ask that it be extended to the leadership of the National Assembly and the States Houses of Assembly. This latter group has said that the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker as well as the Speakers of the States Houses of Assembly and their Deputies should be granted immunity under the Constitution. This article discusses the immunity clause and its sphere, extent and limits as it relates to the officers protected, the arguments for and against its retention in the Constitution, as well as state practices in other jurisdictions.It concludes that it is expedient to retain the clause, but the call in some quarters to expand it to cover the leadership of the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly is not viable.
Keywords: Corruption, immunity, Constitution, sustainable development.