by Bello Abdulsobur Olalekan
Impeachment is a system or a process where a political elected person is removed through deliberation by the legislative house (House of Assembly).
It is however to be noted that impeachment could be of legal or illegal way depending on the facet that embedded or that calls for the impeachment. What makes an impeachment legal or illegal is an exclusive right of the court of law who has the onus to administer justice on aggrieved parties.
The word impeachment was however re-affirmed in the case of INAKOJU & ORS V. ADELEKE& ORS (2007) 4 NWLR (pt 1025) 423.where the supreme court is of the opinion that the definition does not totally reflect the content of section 188 of the 1999 constitution.
There are numerous mechanisms which serve as a guiding-angel for the legislature who has the primary duties to impeach any person who
is found wanting or goes against or contrary the ethics of the position of the governor. The mechanisms are corroborated by vitue of section 188 of the 1999 constitution.
Below are the mechanisms which section 188 is talking about:
The Governor or Deputy Governor of a state may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the House of Assembly.
(b) stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.
the speaker of the House of Assembly shall, within seven days of the receipt of the notice, cause a copy of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office, to be served on each member of the House of Assembly.
(3) Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the speaker of the House of Assembly (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice-, the House of Assembly shall resolve by motion, without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated
(4) A motion of the House of Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly.
(5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chief judge of the State shall at the request of the speaker of the House of Assembly, appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provided in this section.
(6) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person or be represented before the panel by a legal practitioner of his own choice.
(7) A Panel appointed under this section shall –
(a) have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly; and
(b) within three months of its appointment, report its findings to the House of Assembly.
(8) Where the Panel reports to the House of Assembly that the allegation has not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter.
(9) Where the report of the Panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within fourteen days of the receipt of the report, the house of Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of the House of Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the Panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed form office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
(10) No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.
(11) In this section –
“gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion in the House of Assembly to gross misconduct.
Further, it is to be noted that impeachment could be served on a sitting governor if he/she is found wanting of corruption or gross misconduct as stated in the afforementioned section of the constitution..see the case of LADOJA V. I.N.E.C (2007) 12 NWLR (Pt.1047) where Ladoja was impeached for gross misconduct although the impeachment was challenged im the court of law that his removal was illegal, unconstitutional and tantamount to daylight robbery..see also im the case of __DSP Alamiesyesigha V INEC.
The then Governor of Bayelsa was impeached as a result of corruption where he swindled or single-handedly mismanaged over #1.7billion.
This is also the case in Joshua Dariye vs Pleteau state House of Assembly .
Conclusively, some impeachment do not pass through the prescribed means or legal process. In past occurrences, some impeachments were unconstitutional and biased. Some impeached Governors, like Fayose (2003), Ladoja(2007), Obi (2003) were said to be unconstitutional by the supreme court.
The impeachment mechanisms didn’t take a bow to constitution. Take a lucid example of the Fayose Saga.The supreme court later held that the removal of Fayose was illegal, null and void.
Bello Abdulsobur olalekan
Student of Bayero University kano.