The controversial bill seeking to confer immunity on the legislative houses may have its advantages after all, as some of its provisions are geared towards eradicating bribery and corruption in the National Assembly.
However, a glance at the bill showed that it had some provisions that could be dangerous to media houses as it seeks to punish journalists for preemptive reports and other publications which the parliament may consider scandalous and defamatory.
Apparently, to save the parliament from recurring bribery scandals, Section 11 of the bill prohibits acts geared towards influencing members of the legislature to take action or suspend action on any matter before the parliament.
“Any one who runs foul of this provision shall be liable on conviction to a fine or two years imprisonment or both.
The provision read thus: “A person who offers a member or officer of a Legislative House, any bribe, fee, compensation, reward or benefits of any kind in order to influence him in his conduct in respect of promotion of or opposition to any bill, resolution or report submitted or intended to be submitted to the legislative house or
(b) threatens to make use of force, violence, restraint or inflict any temporal, metaphysical or spiritual injury, or damage against a member or officer of the legislative house in order to compel such member to declare himself in favour of or against any matter pending or being expected, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.00 or two years imprisonment or both.
“A member of a Legislative House who accepts or agrees to accept bribe or attempt to obtain for himself or for any other person any bribe, fee, compensation, reward or benefit of any kind for speaking or refraining from speaking, voting or refraining from voting or influencing any report submitted or intended to be submitted to the Legislative House, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.00 or two years imprisonment or both.”
Section 13 of the bill which deals with the issue of contempt of a Legislative House prohibits the publication of a report of a committee before it is laid to the House in plenary session.