Daily Law Tips (Tip 741) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Introduction:
For every action there is a reaction, but not when one is a Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President of Nigeria. Yes, holder of the above-mentioned elective offices enjoy immunity from prosecution in any civil or criminal case. So, for them and their actions, there are really no reaction (consequences). This works gives a brief overview of executive immunity in Nigeria, defining its boundaries.

Immunity Compass.
Apart from the enormous powers vested on the offices of Governors of state, Deputy Governor of states, President of Nigeria or Vice President of Nigeria, their occupiers are bigger and higher than any court case in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. Any person occupying such office is constitutionally exempted from being arrested, imprisoned, prosecuted or sued in any court (whether civil or criminal) or even served with any court process (document).

The immunity is a constitutional provision and as such is mandatory, irrevocable, unchallengeable and cannot be waived by any court, government or person, including the person vested and enjoying such rights. Hence, at no time, place or circumstance can executive immunity of President, Vice-President, Governor or Deputy-Governor be waived or revoked. However, such offices and their occupiers can be sued only in their official capacity and not personally (such case do not affect the offices and their occupiers, and new government inherits such cases).

Note that the mentioned office holders cannot be sued but they can sue. However, they can be investigated so far, such investigations will not involve detention and service of court processes (documents). Note further that, a Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President in Nigeria enjoys executive immunity only during his/her tenure. The moment the holder of the office ends his/her tenure, such a person can be prosecuted, dragged to court (both for criminal and civil cases), for any matter (including for his/her actions/inactions while in government).

Conclusion:
Truly, the actions/inactions of a serving Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President of Nigeria has no reaction (consequences). After all, such an executive is constitutionally shielded from being arrested, imprisoned, prosecuted or sued in any court (whether civil or criminal) or even served with any court process (document). Although, such office holders cannot be sued, they can sue. This position turns upside-down the moment a Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President of Nigeria ends his/her tenure. So, there is no immunity for any former Governor, Deputy Governor, President or Vice President of Nigeria.

My authorities, are:

1. Section 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 308, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
2. Sections 308 the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
3. The Supreme Court decisions in the case of MOHAMMED ABACHA v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA(1986) LPELR-214(SC) (2014) LPELR-22014(SC).
4. The Supreme Court decisions in the case of ALI V. ALBISHIR (2008) ALL FWLR (PT.415) 1681 AT 1710, PARAS. A-B, B-E.
5. The Supreme Court decisions in the case of BOLA TINIBU VS. I.M.B. SECURITIES PLC (2001) LPELR-SC.32/2001 OR (2001) 16 NWLR (PT. 740) 670 OR (2001) 9 -10 S.C 49.
6. The Supreme Court decisions in the case of CHIEF GANI FAWEHINMI V. INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE & ORS (2002) LPELR-SC.201/2000 or (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.767) 606 or (2002) 5 S.C (Pt.I) 63.
7. The Supreme Court decisions in the case ofGLOBAL EXCELLENCE COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED & ORS V. MR. DONALD DUKE or (2007) 16 NWLR (Pt.1059) 22 or (2007) 7 S.C. (Pt II) 162
8. Onyekachi Umah, “When Can Immunity Be Waived By President/Vice-President Or Governor/Deputy-Governor In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 29 September 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/when-can-immunity-be-waived-by-president-vice-president-or-governor-deputy-governor/> accessed 22 February 2021
9. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Serving Senator Be Convicted, Even With His Immunity” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 July 2019) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-a-serving-senator-be-convicted-even-with-his-immunity/> accessed 22 February 2021

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