Over the last few weeks, even Nigerians living under a rock would have heard of the current health crisis plaguing President Muhammad Buhari. This has resulted in him taking an indefinite leave of absence from official duties. In all honestly, even the biggest Buhari advocate must concede that the truth as to the state of his health is anyone’s guess.
Many have called for Buhari’s resignation – in light of the fact that he is currently unable to effectively discharge his duties as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Others have stressed that our current situation, in which the Vice President has been indefinitely enlisted as the “Coordinating Vice President” as opposed to the “Acting President”, cannot be in the best interest of the nation. Regardless of one’s position, all must agree that in the long run, it is the millions of innocent Nigerian citizens who will suffer from this mismanagement.
All calls for resignation seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and as the Presidential Jet continues to wait for Oga in London, the nation’s cries have proven fruitless.
This article details the process for impeachment of a Nigeria President.
#BabaMustGo – Steps For Impeachment
According to Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), here are the steps for impeachment of the President:
1. 1/3 of the Senate and the House of Representatives (together known as the National Assembly) must sign a written letter alleging gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of office by the President. This letter must then be presented to the Senate President. Gross Misconduct is defined by the Constitution as misconduct of such a nature as amounts, in the opinion of the National Assembly, to gross misconduct.
2. This letter alleging Gross Misconduct must be served on the President and all members of the National Assembly within 7 days. The President has the right of reply; said reply must also be served on the National Assembly.
3. Within 14 days of the Senate President receiving the written letter alleging gross misconduct, both the Senate and the House of Representatives shall proceed to resolve, by motion, whether said allegation is worthy and deserving of further investigation. This motion needs to be passed by at least 2/3’s of the National Assembly.
4. The allegation shall be immediately dropped, with no further action being taken, where this motion fails to reach the necessary majority.
5. However, in an instance where the required majority is obtained, within 7 days the Senate President shall request that the Chief Justice of Nigeria appoint a 7-man panel to investigate the allegations. This 7-man panel shall be comprised of people of “unquestionable integrity” who are not members of any public service, legislative house or political party.
6. Said panel shall have 3 months to report its findings to the National Assembly. The President shall be entitled to a lawyer and shall have the right to defend himself at any point during the investigation.
7. No further action shall be taken where the panel finds that the allegations are unfounded and proceedings will be immediately discontinued.
8. However, where the panel upholds the allegations of gross misconduct then the National Assembly shall move a resolution for the adoption of the report of the Panel.
9. Where 2/3 of the National Assembly supports the resolution for the adoption of the report of the panel, the President shall be deemed removed and must leave office from the date of the adoption of the report.
10. Once the resolution for the adoption of the report has been successfully moved by the National Assembly, there shall be no recourse to any court of law, nor shall there be any judicial proceedings with regards to the matter. The President shall also lose all entitlements upon removal from office, and at most he may only challenge the process that lead to the impeachment.
11. Once the President has been successfully removed from office, the vacant office shall automatically pass to the incumbent Vice-President.
The procedure for impeachment seems quite straightforward when being typed out in a step-by-step guide; however in reality we all know that, like with all things Government, the bureaucracy shall know no bounds.
The definition for gross misconduct seems quite straight forward and I believe absconding from one’s duties falls neatly within the parameters of the description of gross misconduct. However, whether 1/3 of the National Assembly will “openly” sign such a letter is another article in itself. From my understanding, the House does not always see things the same way as the laymen.
The constitution talks of a 7-man panel of unquestionable integrity, with no political affiliation and who are not members of any public services… is such a panel possible? If so, why would such persons want to be involved in such a “messy” matter? I cannot help but ponder who shall be eligible for membership of such a panel (I’m guessing scholars or private sector head honchos).
All in all, I personally believe all notions of impeachment are a fallacy and far from possible in reality. The best we can do is pray that Baba either returns to his post, or jejely walks away (no fighting, no argument).