1999 Constitution Encourages Impunity By Granting Immunity To Corrupt Politicians – Retired General

Retired military officer, General Ishola Williams, has voiced strong criticism against the immunity clause in Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution.

The retired General, argued  that the act emboldens corrupt politicians by protecting them from arrest and prosecution while in office. 

He stated this during his appearance on the socio-political programme Inside Sources with Laolu Akande, aired on Channels Television, General Williams described the constitution as “corruption-prone.”

“The constitution is corruption-prone because it provides immunity for crooks once they assume elective offices,” said General Williams, the former Head of Transparency International in Nigeria.

 “Immunity is equivalent to impunity. So, any constitution that has immunity is creating an institution for impunity because you bring a crook into government and say, ‘Oh, this crook because he has come into government, he is now a saint, so anything he does, leave him until he leaves.'”

General Williams highlighted that Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution shields the President, Vice President, the 36 state governors, and their deputies from civil or criminal proceedings, as well as arrest and imprisonment, during their tenure. 

He emphasized that this clause effectively places these officials above the law, allowing them to act without fear of accountability.

He further criticized politicians for blaming General Abdulsalami Abubakar for the 1999 Constitution while refusing to amend it due to the power and benefits it grants them. 

“Politicians since 1999 have been blaming General Abdulsalami Abubakar for the 1999 Constitution, but they don’t want to amend it correctly because of the powers that it gives them, and the greed and the selfishness,” he remarked.

The retired general lamented that corruption among government officials has hindered Nigeria’s progress, asserting that the country has the intellectual capacity to compete with South Africa.

 “By now, Nigeria should be competing with South Africa because we have the brain power,” he stated.

General Williams also advocated for Nigeria to develop an economic strategy tailored to its specific needs, similar to the approaches taken by Asian countries, rather than adopting Western economic models. 

He argued that such a bespoke strategy would better serve Nigeria’s unique context and challenges.

Reflecting on his resignation from the Nigerian Army following the annulment of the June 12, 1993, election—believed to have been won by the late MKO Abiola—General Williams reiterated that military coups are not a viable solution for Nigeria’s issues.

 “Coups are not necessary,” he stated, noting that military rule is inherently temporary and flawed. He praised General Abdulsalami Abubakar for quickly transitioning power to a civilian government within 11 months, recognizing that military governance cannot resolve Nigeria’s problems.

General Williams also reflected on the Nigerian Civil War, questioning the rationale behind the conflict.

 “After the civil war, I reflected on why we fought and couldn’t find any cogent reason except that two lieutenant colonels got us into the war – one was smart and the other was not,” he remarked.

General Williams urged civil society organizations to take a more active role in promoting good governance and holding leaders accountable. 

He emphasized the crucial role of the Nigerian populace in ensuring responsible leadership. 

“The followership of Nigeria has the greatest responsibility,” he asserted, encouraging citizens to demand accountability and participate actively in governance.

He noted that public celebrations of military takeovers in African countries stem from disillusionment with civilian leaders. 

“Whenever the military takes over, people go into the streets and rejoice. It is because the followers choose the wrong leaders, and the leaders take advantage of the irresponsibility of the followers,” he explained.



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