Lawmakers reacts to speculation that the president wants to clip governors’ wings

The House of Representatives Constitution Review Subcommittee has denied receiving an executive proposal from President Goodluck Jonathan seeking to remove state governors’ immunity clause from the 1999 constitution.

The committee said on Wednesday that it was yet to receive any such bill, ahead of a planned amendment to the constitution.

“This is not the first time we have had such reaction on the likely removal from the governor’s forum,” said Eziuche Ubani, the spokesperson for the committee. “There is nothing before this committee on that. We have not gotten proposals from the president. So we don’t know what anybody is reacting to.”

As states’ chief executives, governors and their deputies share the privileged clause with the president and vice president, receiving protection against prosecution while in office.

Critics have said the clause has shielded corrupt leaders from punishment and have called for its exclusion from the constitution.

Speculation suggesting the president may have sent in the proposal ignited concerns from the Nigerian Governors Forum.

At a news briefing, the committee members said while they prepared to accommodate all issues put before them, they were yet to receive a specific bill from Jonathan on that.

“The attitude we have in this committee and indeed the House is that we will respond to the issues of the people,” said Ubani. “The governor’s forum is a constituency and they also represent the people, the constitution belongs to the people and is supposed to guide the people. What we attend to do is to respond to the bigger sentiments of the people of Nigeria and not basically any group. The president will have to send a proposal to the National Assembly. I think we can speak very specifically on that when the time comes. As it is, there is nothing before us.”

On state and local government creation, the review committee confirmed receipt of a large number of proposals. “There are quite so many of them, and we will be guided by the constitution in looking at those request,” said Ubani.

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