There have been a lot of furore over the stunted attempt by 8 Members out of 24,of the Benue State House of Assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings against Governor Ortom of Benue State.
The Removal of a Governor under our Grundnorm is provided for by Section 188 (1),to (10).This section of our Constitution provides for a Cumbersome political algorithm, that must be followed through,by the Members of the House of Assembly — for it to be legitimate but which has so far,been simplified by Political expediency and sometimes, acts akin to treasonable felony.
The first crux is that two-thirds of Members of the House of Assembly must sign the impeachment notice to be served on the Governor.
Anything less than this, renders the whole process nugatory.See Dapialong v. Dariye No. 2,(2007), 8 NWLR,(Part 1036),332.
The case mentioned above has also streamlined what constitutes ,a Governor’s Gross Misconduct in the contemplation of Section 188 (3) and (4) ,of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [As Amended], as opposed to the long held principle as expounded by Congress Man Gerald Ford of the U.S. Congress in the 1970s, that; “Gross Misconduct is what a Majority of the House of Representatives say it is ” Gross Misconduct must be real, ascertainable, proven with cogent and real evidence and must fall within the parameters provided for, by the Supreme Court in the above stated case.
The Nigerian Jurisprudential trajectory has placed on the State Legislators, a duty to follow all the ten sine qua non, provided for by Sections 188 (1) to (9)) to remove a Governor and failure to follow any of them gives the Courts powers to inquire as to legality or otherwise of the Process. See Inokoju v. Adeleke (2007),4 NWLR (Part 1025),p. 423.
This case dispenses with so called political question foisted on our jurisprudence in the case of Balarba Musa v. Kaduna State House of Assembly (1982) 3 NCLR,450 and which is represented as an ouster clause on the impeachment process in Section 188(10) of the Constitution [As Amended ].
The Service of the Impeachment notice must be personal Service and publishing of same in Newspapers or any other Media Platform does not suffices. See Dapialong V. Dariye (Supra).
The House of Assembly ,must also be properly constituted with a duly elected Speaker and not a Speaker ‘Pro Tempore’, a Position not known to our Constitution). See Dapialong V. Dariye (Supra).
The House of Assembly, when considering the Impeachment of a Governor, must also conduct the process in the House of Assembly ,with presence of the Official Mace. See Balonwu v. Mr. Peter Obi (2009) 18 NWLR (Part 1172) 13.
From the foregoing, it is law, that impeachment proceedings, which is Sui Generis must follow the due process of law, failure of which it shall relegate to the dustbin history and the perpetrators of any illegalities shall have their names engraved in Nigerian Hall of Shame — which is Posterity.
Mr Ogbankwa is the Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch.