The former presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Prof. Peter Nwangwu, says the Immunity Clause in the 1999 Constitution should be removed because ``it has done more harm than good''.
Nwangwu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that its removal would serve more benefits to the nation.
He said: ``No political office holder, including governors and the president, should have immunity while in office.
``Immunity from any criminal offence, including stealing or breaking the law in anyway, should not be allowed.
``The provision has been abused repeatedly with impunity, so the country needs it so as to fight corruption in high places.”
The former presidential candidate said politicians and leaders would be a lot more careful about doing things in office if the Immunity Clause was removed.
``Anyone who does not like the removal should stay away from serving in that capacity since the nation will be better for it.’’
He stressed that the more fundamental question was whether the judiciary and law enforcement officials had the mindset and the political will to prosecute and punish offenders severely.
He, however, said the ``mess’’ in the nation's corruption scandals and abuses had been committed by people who did not have immunity.
Nwangwu said such abuses included the mess in privatisation by the Bureau of Public Enterprise, the fuel subsidy probe, the banking sector, the stock market crisis and the police pension funds scandal.
He said the corrupt system did not allow proper punishment for people without immunity who committed crimes for which they should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
The politician said said if the immunity clause was removed, offending governors and presidents would be prosecuted and punished properly.
``I speak as a former presidential candidate who was ranked 6th out of the 20 candidates in the 2011 elections, even after stepping down for Jonathan.
``I insist that there should be no Immunity Clause for presidents and governors.’’
A public analyst and a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Ikechukwu Unegbe, also said he supported the removal of the clause.
He said it would be only on matters pertaining to criminal and financial crimes.
``In other words, we should maintain immunity clause on matters that are purely civil in nature; so this way, it will be difficult for persons to sue protected officers over personal civil matters.
``But on criminal and financial matters, where a prima facie case has been established against the officers, they should not enjoy immunity.
``You cannot allow a criminal to run the state or the nation.’’
He expressed the view that immunity clause would not distract any political office holder while in office.
``Do not forget that each governor and president took Oath of Office.
``If you go and read the words of the Oath, you will see that anyone who breaches it should not be allowed to stay a day longer in office.’’