Reps disagree over bill to give immunity to legislators

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The Federal House of Representatives on Tuesday went into a rowdy session over a proposed amendment to section 308 of the Nigerian constitution to allow the national assembly leadership enjoy immunity while in office.

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  The minority leader of the House and sponsor of the bill, Leo Ogor, said that by providing immunity for the leadership of the national assembly, the independence of the legislature will be guaranteed.

He said that the essence of the amendment was to strengthen the national assembly and protect the leadership while they were in office.

However, the majority leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, kicked against the amendment, saying that the timing of the legislation was not right.

“We must feel the pulse of the people; there is something about timing, timing in any piece of legislation is important,” he said. “There are issues in the senate and I pray it’s resolved.”

Thereafter, the house went rowdy for about 15 minutes, as many lawmakers spoke on top of their voices, making it impossible to hear anyone.

While some of the members called for the speaker to rule on the amendment, others wanted it thrown out.

When calm returned to the House, the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, said the bill would be sent to the special committee on constitutional review in line with the House rules. “The bill can die even at the committee,” he noted.

Guiding the House, the deputy chairman rules and business, Ayorinde Olabode, cited order 8 rule 98 of the House rules, which states that any bill that seeks to alter the constitution be sent to the special committee.

The speaker later passed the bill for second reading and referred it to the special committee on constitutional review.