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Senate: Immunity for Lawmakers Unnecessary

The Senate on Tuesday distanced itself from current moves by the House of Representatives to enact a law that would guarantee immunity for its members.

Fielding questions from journalists, Senate Committee Chairman on Information, Eyinnaya Abaribe, who said the Senate was yet to receive a copy of the bill, said the upper chamber would be surprised if the move ultimately geared towards securing immunity for legislators outside the chamber. According to him, seeking immunity for lawmakers over comments made in the chamber would be unnecessary since there is already a known law which protects members of the National Assembly from prosecution on comments they make in the parliament.

Abaribe stressed that seeking immunity clause for lawmakers would only be necessary if the current law which guarantees immunity for them is found to be inadequate and needs further adjustment. The senator also said the only privilege for lawmakers is that they cannot be arrested within the National Assembly because they are protected by law.

He said: “I think that the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act already gives every legislator immunity for whatever he or she says on the floor of the chamber so that is already a settled law and fact. It has not been brought to the floor of the Senate yet. The matter, as discussed in the House, we do not have that bill yet. I guess when that bill comes to us, that is when we will see the different provisions so I will be very surprised, if somebody is asking for immunity outside of the chambers of the National Assembly.

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