Process of Impeachment in Nigeria will be explained here. This will avail Nigerians information on impeachment process.
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There was a time when the house members almost moved a motion for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari, because of the simple reason that he withdrew 469 dollars for the acquisition of twelve Tucano aircraft in order to use in fighting terrorism without the prior consent of the lawmakers.
They described his action as an impeachable offense. Even though the motion never saw the light of the day, it is important to know what the process would have been like.
Impeachment is a process whereby the deliberative assembly which possesses powers to make laws in a country brings up charges against a person holding a governmental office e.g. the President, Governor, etc.
In its original definition, impeachment does not automatically means removal from office, it only means that a person who is impeached will face the possibility of being removed by the vote of the lawmakers, and in Nigeria, it takes one-third of the members of the National House of Assembly.
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Because of the nature of impeachment, it is reserved till when a president commits a capital crime against the nation, crimes such as treason, bribery, etc.
Just like every other country that allows room for impeachment, Nigeria’s constitution has its own procedures embedded in section 143 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Impeachment Process in Nigerian Constitution
- A notice of allegation has to be written and signed by not less than one-third of the general National Assembly members and presented to the Senate President.
- The letter must state that the President or Vice has through his office found guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of his duty as the President or vice. Evidence bearing that claim must also be submitted alongside the letter.
- Within seven days of receiving the letter, the Senate President shall send a copy of the letter to the President or whoever the letter was written against as well as each member of the National Assembly and should there be any reply or statement made by the President or Vice in reply to the claims, the Senate president will also serve it to every member of the National Assembly.
- Fourteen days after the presentation of the letter to the Senate President, regardless of whether there was a response to the claims or not, every member of the National assembly will individually resolve in motion without any argument if the motion should be investigated further.
- For this motion to be investigated, it will need the cites of two-thirds of the General National Assembly. Should it not be supported by two-thirds, the allegation will not be investigated but if it has the support of two-thirds of the house, the investigation begins.
- The Senate President will within seven days summon the Chief Justice of the Federation and at his request, the Chief Justice will form a panel made up of seven members of unquestionable character and integrity. These seven persons will not belong to any political party, hold any public service or be in the legislative house. Their responsibility will be to investigate the case presented against the president and his vice.
- The President or vice (depending on who is about to be impeached) has the liberty to present himself before the panel or be represented by his own trusted legal practitioners.
- The appointed panel has about three months to carry out their investigation after three months have elapsed, they are expected to return to each member of the national assembly with a report on what they have discovered in relation to the case. Should the panel return with the report that the claims are false, then, there will be no impeachment but if the panel confirms the claims of the national assembly members, the report will then be read in the national house and again, if two-thirds of the house members support it, the President or Vice will be removed from the office according to the law from the day such a report has been adopted.
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- Once the president is impeached, no Court in the Federation will hear any petition whatsoever.