Here’s Why You Can’t Sue The President, Vice President, Governors, And Deputy Governors In Nigeria. – Ever wondered why you hardly hear or see it in the news that a particular governor or president was taken to court regarding a criminal or civil offence? Well, there’s a reason for that which is referred to as immunity and is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
Immunity refers to freedom from legal obligations to perform actions or suffer penalties or liability. Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution provides for immunity of:
(i) The President of Nigeria;
(ii) The Vice President of Nigeria;
(iii) The Governors of all 36 states in Nigeria
(iv) The Deputy Governors of all 36 states in Nigeria
During the time they are in office,
i. No criminal or civil proceedings can be instituted against them,
ii. They cannot be arrested or imprisoned during that period for any reason whatsoever
iii. They cannot be compelled to appear before any court or issued any process in pursuance of a court order
This provision of the law only grants them immunity in their official capacity. If an action is instituted against them in their personal capacity, such action will be maintained. For instance, if the wife or husband of any of the people listed above files for a divorce, the suit will be maintained. However, if a citizen of Nigeria brings an action against any of those listed above, such action will be struck out as they cannot be sued in their personal capacity.
If before holding any of these positions listed above, there was an action already in court, such action would be on hold pending the time their tenure in office ends. Also, there are situations in which the President or Governor of a state would prosecute an offender or situations where an aggrieved citizen may want to institute an action against the office of the President or Governor.
To successfully institute this action, the party in such a suit will be either the Attorney General of the Federation or the Attorney General of the state in question.
Note that after their tenure, matters that were put on hold may be resumed, and matters that could not be instituted due to the immunity previously conferred on them would be allowed. Do ask any question you might have below.