CONFAB Approves Removal Of Immunity Clauses, President, Governors Can Face Criminal, Civil Prosecution

Chairman and Deputy in consultation at the conference

Delegates to the on-going National Conference took a major step on Thursday towards the amendment of the 1999 Constitution when they overwhelmingly voted for the removal of immunity clause as enshrined in the Constitution.

The clause, which has attracted unfavorable comments at every National or Constitutional Conferences, currently protects the President, Vice President; and state governors and their deputies from prosecution as long as they remain in office.

However, except otherwise decided, by the resolution of the National Conference on Thursday, both the President 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.

Conference also resolved that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should be made to pay prevalent interest rates on duly delayed remittances to the federation account.

The resolution was meant 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.

It was also resolved that government, the armed forces and the private sector should collaborate and invest in the development of a military industrial complex that can support Nigeria’s defence needs as the largest economy in Africa.

In a bid to attract patronage of goods produced in Nigeria, Conference urged the National Assembly to enact a law that would prohibit government from going abroad to source for goods that are available in Nigeria.

The decision was meant to encourage promotion of campaign on locally produced goods so that Nigerians would be enticed to consume home made products.

To prevent excessive personalization of policies and promote policy consistency, it was decided that government submits a Bill on National Participatory Development Process to the National Assembly, to be enacted into law.

As a pro-gender policy, Conference asked government to provide a special fund for interest-free loans for women farmers, marketers, traders, transporters, and owners of rural cooperatives.

It was also agreed that all banks should establish gender desks to ease the stress of borrowing by women.

Government was also mandated to build fuel depots in remote areas and riverine communities where there is plenty of crude oil but no fuel to buy at affordable price.

Delegates also voted for a reduction by 50% of the cost of tuition, books, equipment and hostel for all female students in secondary and post-secondary education.

Conference said the Central Bank of Nigeria should establish a special interest regime of a single digit for industries and condemned situations where banks record billions of naira in profit yearly while the manufacturing sector dies.

It was further decided that operators of micro, small and medium enterprises should be duly registered and provided with tax holidays of three years to relieve them of the burden of multiple taxation and enhance their productivity.

In addition, local textile manufacturing industries were exempted from paying Value Added Tax (VAT) for three years while imported textiles should attract a levy of not less than 5% of the value of goods imported to boost the textile revival fund.

In addition, it was recommended by the Conference that government should completely release the N100 billion budgeted for the cotton, textile and garment revival scheme through the Bank of Industry.