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Nigeria: Sultan of Sokoto Seeks Removal of Immunity Clause for Politicians

The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called for the removal of the immunity clause in the constitution, saying

Sa’ad Abubakar

The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called for the removal of the immunity clause in the constitution, saying it will compel leaders to live up to their responsibilities.

He also advocated a constitutional role for traditional rulers, saying it was time Nigerians talk frankly on how they want the country managed.

Addressing stakeholders at the Kebbi zonal constitutional review hearing comprising Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States, the sultan attributed the crisis in the country to the relegation of traditional rulers as they were given no constitutional role to play.

He said before the Nigerian nation came into being in 1914, the traditional institution had existed.

He said: “One of the controversial issues, which I feel strongly about is the immunity clause. When you are immune, nobody can take you to court as a leader and it means that you can do whatever you want to do. You can claim to be God.

“But when that immunity is removed and you are made to live in a society where people are taken to court for abuse of office, I think our leaders here will wake up. Let us see how to tinker with that immunity clause.

“Will it be better to give immunity to a few people or remove the immunity so that all of us will be equal? It is another food for thought. So, please don’t hold back, speak your mind on how you want this country to move on.”

Meanwhile, Plateau, Benue, and Nasarawa states have unanimously demanded devolution of power in a manner that the states will be given more powers and finance considering their enormous responsibilities.

They also requested that the state governors, as the chief security officers of their states, be given the powers to control the police in their states to enhance quick and rapid response to crisis and crime.

They decried the situation where a state police command has to get clearance from Abuja to respond to crisis in its domain.

Presenting their memoranda at the North-central zonal public hearing in Jos, the three states also advocated a single tenure of five years for the president.

Presenting the position of Benue State, representative of the governor, and Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Titus Ugba, urged the National Assembly to grant the demands of people seeking creation of additional states.

Plateau State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Chrisantus Ahmedu, and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Abdulkareem Kana, who toed the same line with Ugba on most of their demands, added that the three tiers of government could be reduced to two; comprising only the federal and state governments, such that states are given the resources to cater for the local governments.

Earlier, while addressing the audience, Plateau State Governor, Hon. Simon Lalong, had urged Nigerians to be bold, sincere and patriotic in their submissions to the constitution review panel in their quest for a greater nation.

Lalong stated that the much-talked about restructuring will be considered to ensure that the agitations and anxieties being expressed are addressed.

According to him, there are high expectations that this particular exercise will not go the way of previous ones which failed to address some key issues affecting the governance of the nation, leading to further agitations that are growing and in some way threatening peace, security and unity of the country.

“I therefore appeal to members of this special committee and Nigerians presenting memoranda at this public hearing to see this exercise as a very important duty which presents another opportunity for us to build a Nigeria that we desire to see. We should take advantage of the platform to ventilate and make submissions as to what we want injected or removed from the 1999 Constitution to make it more people -centred,” he said.

Segun James in Lagos, Christopher Isiguzo and Gideon Arinze in Enugu, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, James Sowole in Akure and Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi