Confab removes immunity clause from constitution, pays tribute to MKO Abiola

Delegates at the on-going National Conference yesterday voted overwhelmingly for the removal of immunity clause from the 1999 Constitution, Street Journal has gathered.

The clause has been criticised in several quarters as it allows impunity in office especially in the face of astronomical corruption and embezzlement of funds.

The immunity clause currently protects the President, Vice President; and state governors and their deputies from prosecution as long as they remain in office.

However, if the resolution of the National Conference yesterday stands, both the President, Governors and their deputies can now be dragged to court over criminal and civil cases.

The resolution was based on consideration of the report by the Committee on Economy, Trade and Investment headed by Hajiya Bola Shagaya with Fola Adeola as deputy chairman.

The conference also resolved yesterday that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be made to pay interest rates on delayed remittances to the federation account in a bid to discourage late or non-remittance of money by the corporation into the Federation Account for allocation to the different tiers of government as demanded by law.

Meanwhile, the National Conference also yesterday paid tribute to the slain Chief M.K.O Abiola and those killed during the crisis on the 21st anniversary of the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Elections.

Moving a motion under Matters of Urgent Public Importance, a delegate from the South South, Orok Otu Duke, informed delegates of the need to honour Abiola and those that died in the struggle.

He said, “So many Nigerians died on that day. That is why we are here. Moshood Abiola paid the ultimate price. It is something we should never wish away like it never happened. Some of us here were victims of June 12.

“Those who fell for June 12 should be remembered today. We should pay tributes to those who fell for the cause of democracy spearheaded by Moshood Abiola. We should always remember this day as a watershed in the history of Nigeria.”

In similar vein, Chief Ayo Banjo quipped that without June 12, there would be no May 29.

“That is the basis of our freedom and democracy, and for that, we should remember the day for what it is worth. I therefore support that motion.”

Chief Mike Ozekhome in his remarks said June 12 remained important in Nigeria’s history, and should never be trivialised.

He said, “June 12 gave rise to May 29. We should not deceive ourselves. Some people paid the supreme price to attain the democracy we have today.

“We should not trivialise June 12 and I think that is something that is important. So many elder statesmen here went into exile and some of them were detained unjustly. We should observe a minute silence for all those that died in the struggle.

“They paid the supreme price in their sense of ‘messiahsm’. We should give honour to whom it is due. June 12 is not just important; it is a watershed of Nigeria’s democracy.”

Chief Edwin Clark said June 12 was the real democracy day; saying, “I lend my voice to the observations made; but for small mindlessness, June 12 should have been Democracy Day. May 29 is there because someone came to office and decided to make May 29 the Democracy Day.

“June 12 is democracy day in Nigeria. That day, the man that contested against Abiola came from Kano State and he agreed that he was floored by Abiola in Kano, his home town.”

“That shows how popular, how valuable Abiola was. If for eight years, he was not recognised, when the president came, he recognised him and renamed the University of Lagos after him; but for the protests of the students and lecturers.

“We must have heroes in our country. How did NADECO come to be? Many of our people ran away. As far as I am concerned, we must recognise today as an important day. I support the mover of this motion.”

The conference observed a minute silence for those who lost their lives during the June 12 debacle.

Author: News Editor

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