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Impeachment threat and matters arising

Impeachment threat and matters arising
August 06
09:52 2022

Last week, opposition lawmakers in the national assembly gave President Muhammadu Buhari an ultimatum — stop the insecurity in six weeks or face impeachment.

Will the lawmakers carry out their threat? I don’t think so. Deep down in their minds they know it’s an impossible task to impeach a sitting president. The framers of our constitution made the conditions stringent so it is practically impossible to impeach a president. In fact, the national assembly has tried several times to summon ex-presidents and it has not worked.

Since 1999, several attempts have been made to impeach the president all to no avail.

It is instructive to note that according to Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), here are the steps to impeach the President:

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“There must be a notice of any allegation in writing alleging gross misconduct on the part of the President. This notice must be signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly (both the Senate and House of Representatives) and it is presented to the Senate President.

*Gross misconduct is defined by the Constitution as a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct.

“The Senate President must within 7 days, serve the President and each member of the National Assembly with a copy of the notice of allegation.

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“The President has a right of reply (he/she does not have to reply, however), and any such statement in reply to the allegation must be served on each member of the National Assembly.

“Within 14 days of the presentation of the notice to the Senate President, each chamber of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated. This motion needs to be passed by at least a two-thirds majority of all members of each chamber of the National Assembly.

“If the motion fails to reach the two-thirds majority, the process immediately stops, and no further action will be taken. However, if the two-thirds majority is obtained and the motion is passed, then the Senate President will within 7 days of the passing of the motion, request the Chief Justice of Nigeria to appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegations. The members of the Panel cannot be members of any public service, legislative house, or political party.

“The President whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the Panel by legal practitioners of his own choice.

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“A panel shall be appointed which shall; (a) Have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the National Assembly; and (b) Within three months of its appointment report its findings to each House of the National Assembly.

“Where the Panel reports that the allegation has not been proven, there will be no further action. However, if the report is that the allegation against the President has been proven, then the National Assembly will consider the report, and a resolution for the adoption of the report shall be moved.

“For the resolution to be adopted, it must be supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House. Once adopted, the President shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.”

With this, you can see the lawmakers are embarking on a wild goose chase. In most cases, ethnic, religious, and political factors derail the impeachment process.

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Are the concerns of the lawmakers genuine? Of course. Nigeria is passing through its worst security challenges in ages. The recent security threats to Abuja must have woken the lawmakers from their slumber. Most of the lawmakers especially those from the north-west and north-east have stopped going to their constituencies because of the ravaging insecurity. Now it has come to meet them in Abuja. Where will they run to now?

Recently President Buhari gave marching orders to security chiefs to end this madness. Can the military end this? Of course, they can.

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Sadly, there are too many saboteurs in our security agencies who are benefiting massively from the insecurity. Sometimes I ask myself how do those security officials and sponsors of terrorism sleep at night? How much money is enough money?

All hands must be on deck to defeat insecurity. Bandits don’t ask about religion, tribe, or political affiliation before kidnapping or killing their victims so why should we play politics with insecurity?

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It is possible to defeat insecurity. The military should embark on simultaneous operations in Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, and Zamfara to flush out the bandits from the forests. They should also be a massive purge of saboteurs from our security agencies and the process of recruitment also need to be reviewed.



Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.

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