FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, August 12, 2022
teniolaeric@yahoo.com
Lagos, Nigeria
IMPEACHMENT, PENALTY FOR FAILURE AND INCOMPETENCE

ince we started operating the Presidential System of government in 1979, no Nigerian President has been impeached. But seven governors have been impeached so far.

The former Kaduna state Governor, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa (21 August 1936 - 11 November 2020), then of the Peoples Redemption Party was impeached on the 23rd June, 1981. He was unable to form a cabinet before his impeachment. He eventually handed over to Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi. On January 12, 2006, Chief Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja (77), the former governor of Oyo state, was impeached by eighteen Oyo state House of Assembly members. He challenged his impeachment, and on November 1, 2006, the Appeal Court in Ibadan reinstated him, declaring the process of his impeachment null and void. But he would not resume office until the Supreme Court upheld the decision on November 11, 2009, and Ladoja officially resumed office on December 12, 2006.

The present Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi(61) fondly called "OKWUTE"-- ROCK, was Chairman of Fidelity Bank before he ventured into politics in 2003. He was elected governor of Anambra state thereafter. He was impeached on November 2, 2006, by the Anambra state House of Assembly headed by Mr. Mike Balonwu for gross misconduct. The majority leader in the Anambra House of Assembly then was Chief Humphrey Nsofor. President Obasanjo at that time intervened on the issue. He even sent the PDP National Chairman, Chief Ahmadu Ali and the secretary of the party, Chief Ojo Madueke to Awka to plead with the members of the Anambra House of Assembly.

He challenged his impeachment and was reinstated by the Supreme Court in February 2007.

Mr. Joshua Chibi Dariye(65) was governor of Plateau state from May 29, 1999 to May 18, 2004 until he was impeached on November 13, 2006. His deputy, Michael Botmang, became the new governor. On March 10, 2007, after a Court of Appeal ordered Dariye reinstated as governor, the Plateau State Government announced its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court.

On 27 April 2007, the Supreme Court refused the appeal of the Plateau State Government and ordered the reinstatement of Dariye with immediate effect.

Following his reinstatement, Dariye's term of office as Governor of Plateau State concluded on 29 May 2007.

Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha (DSP) (16 November 1952 - 10 October 2015) was Governor of Bayelsa State from 29 May 1999 to 9 December 2005. He was impeached on the 9th December, 2005.

Chief Peter Ayodele Fayose (61), the former Governor of Ekiti State, became the second governor of Ekiti on 29 May 2003, after defeating the incumbent Governor, Niyi Adebayo in the gubernatorial elections. Fayose could not complete his tenure as a result of an impeachment on 16 October 2006.

During the 2014 Ekiti State gubernatorial election, Fayose was again the PDP nominee. He won the election and was declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the new Governor of Ekiti State; he was inaugurated on 16 Of October, 2014. Fayose is now the only Nigerian governor to defeat an incumbent two times.

Admiral Murtala Hamman-Yero Nyako (80)(rtd.) was elected Executive Governor of Adamawa State, Nigeria, taking office in May 2007. Prior to then he served in the Navy, at one time being military governor of Niger State, and being appointed Chief of Naval Staff in December 1989.

On 15 July 2014, the governor was impeached as the state House of Assembly deliberated on the report of an investigative panel that probed allegations of financial misconduct against him. The report found the governor guilty of all the 16 allegations of gross misconduct leveled against him by the House.

On 11 February 2016 the Federal Court of Appeal declared the impeachment null and void and ordered that all his entitlements accrued from the date of impeachment be paid to him. The judgment was upheld on 16 December 2016 by the Supreme Court of Nigeria but declined to reinstate him.

Only two Presidents have been threatened with impeachment. The first was President Olusegun Obasanjo (85), GCFR, in September 2002 and now President Muhammadu Buhari (79), GCFR.

On August 8, 2002, a meeting was held at the Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel, Abuja. It was a caucus meeting of the members of the PDP House of Representatives. On August 13, 2002, the House of Representatives served impeachment notice on President Olusegun Obasanjo with seventeen allegations. The House was presided over by Alhaji Ghali Umar Na'Abba(64) from Tudun Wada Constituency in Kano state.

On the instruction of my then boss, Chief Ufot Ekaette (1939-2019), Secretary to the Government of the Federation, I obtained copies of the resolution from the Clerk of the House of Representatives then, Chief Oluyemi Ogunyomi (GBOGURUM), a close friend of mine, who is now the Asiwaju of Ilaje in Ondo state. Chief Ogunyemi, who later became the Clerk of the National Assembly before his retirement, gave me copies of the resolution. I gave one to Chief Ekaette and another one to Chief Tunji Oseni (5 January, 1943- 29 November, 2004), who was then the Spokesman to President Obasanjo.

Myself and Chief Oseni drove to THE VILLA that night to meet with President Obasanjo, who saw a copy of the resolution first time from Chief Oseni. President Obasanjo later summoned the then Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh (75), Alhaji Adamu Ciroma (20 November 1934 - 5 July 2018) and Chief Tony Anenih (4 August 1933 - 28 October 2018) for an urgent meeting. With President Obasanjo, that night were his personal assistant, Bodunde Adeyanju from Ado Ekiti, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George (76), the former Military Governor of Ondo State now Ekiti and Ondo States combined, my former boss, who was then Chairman of PDP South West, Professor Babalola Aborisade (7 March 1946- 26 April, 2017) from Usi Ekiti, who was then a Minister, Chief Stephen Olakunle Bakare of Oluwalogbon Motors and other top government officials. President Obasanjo's special assistant, Taiwo Ojo from Igbo Ora, Oyo state, made frantic telephone calls throughout that night.

I left THE VILLA that night around 3a.m. with Chief Tunji Oseni.

President Obasanjo made persistent calls on the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Chief Christopher Kolade that night. Chief Oseni later made me a member of the three man media committee which he coordinated to reply to the allegations of the House of Representatives.

The allegations are 1. That sometime between the months of April and July, 2002, the President purportedly amended the Capital Provisions of the 2002 Appropriation Act by reducing the Capital budget to 44% without forwarding the said amendments to the National Assembly for passage in violation of Section 80(4) of the 1999, Constitution which acts amounts to gross misconduct. 2. On or about the month of July 2002, he issued a presidential order purporting same to constitute an amendment to the Revenue Allocation Act which action amounts to a violation of Section 162( 1) and (2) and Section 313 of 1999 Constitution which amounts to a gross misconduct. 3. That from 1999 to 2002 you have consistently indulged in extra budgetary expenses contrary to Section 80 (2), (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution which act amounts to a gross misconduct to wit:

(a) Expenditure on the National Stadium Contract in excess appropriated sums. (b) Expenditure on the National Identity Card project. He authorized the spending of the sum of N9.5 Billion vide letter of credit as against the sum of N5.9 Billion cumulatively approved for the years 2001 and 2002 in the Appropriation Acts respectively. (c) He authorized the purchase of 63 houses and their furnishing for Ministers in the year 2000 to the tune of N3,019,153,178.06 without any budgetary provisions in the 2000 Appropriations Act.

4. That in the year 2000, he authorized the deployment of military troops to Odi to massacre innocent citizens without recourse to the National Assembly contrary to Section 217(2) C of the 1999 Constitution which requires firstly for some conditions to be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for the use of the Military in that regard. 5. That in the year 2001, he without lawful authority authorized the deployment of military troops to Zaki Biam, which occasioned the murder of innocent citizens and the destruction of properties, contrary to Section 217(2) C of the 1999 Constitution which requires firstly for some conditions to be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for the use of the military in the regard.

6. That in the year 2002, he refused to fully implement the recurrent budget as it affects the salaries of staff and overheads for Ministries contrary to the provisions of the Appropriation Act 2002, which amounts to gross misconduct. 7. That in the year 2002, he refused full payment of recurrent expenditure for the judiciary as it affects monies for the payment of salaries and overhead costs contrary to the Appropriation Act of 2002 which act amounts to gross misconduct, contrary to Sections 80(3) and 162(9) of the Constitution.

8. Eighth Allegation: (a) On or about the 31st day of October 2001, the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation issued two separate letters mandating the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Abuja to debit CBN/NCC USD Account No.400938294 with Chase Manhattan Bank, New York in the sum of US$40 million (Forty million United States of America Dollars) and N 16,0 15,500,000.00 (Sixteen billion, Fifty-one million, Five hundred thousand Naira) without enabling legislation by the National Assembly.

(b) On or about the 31 st day of October 200 I, the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation by the aforesaid letters mandated the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria Pic. Lagos Account No.3582059979001 with Standard Chartered Bank N.Y., 7, World Trade Center in the sum of US$40 million (Forty million United States of America Dollars) and First Bank of Nigeria Pic. Account No.4000070 1-35 with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lagos in the sum of N 16,051 ,500,000.00 (Sixteen billion, Fifty-one million, Five hundred thousand Naira) without an enabling legislation by the National Assembly.

Ninth Allegation: That in spite of the coming into force of the 1999 Constitution, he continued to operate and maintain dedicated accounts in the Central Bank of Nigeria contrary to Section 80( 1) and 162( 1) of the Constitution. E.g. Bank for International Settlement Account and Proceeds for Port Development charges Account among others.

Tenth Allegation: That he refused and neglected to pay in full the thirteen % derivation revenue to benefiting states contrary to Section 162 (2) of the 1999 Constitution, an act which amounts to gross misconduct.

Eleventh Allegation: That Mr. President has refused to appoint a Minister of Petroleum Resources which action has occasioned the following violation: (a) That since inception of this Government in 1999 Mr. President refused, failed and or neglected to appoint a Minister of Petroleum Resources contrary to the Petroleum Act cap 350, laws of the Federation as amended by the Petroleum (Amendment) Act of 1996 and Petroleum (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1998 and thereby authorising the performance of or performing yourself the functions of the Minister of Petroleum Resources. (b) That in breach of Section 9( I) d III laws of the Federation 1990 appointed the Committee which has increased the prices of petroleum products which function is that of a Minister of Petroleum Resources under the said Act, which Act constitutes a gross misconduct. (c) That a process of establishing refineries through bidding was established and provisional licenses were issued without the approval of the Minister of Petroleum as required by 3( I) of the Petroleum Act which action amounts to gross misconduct.

Twelfth Allegation: That Mr. President has unilaterally cut across board all overhead costs contained in the 2002 Appropriation Act by 50% without recourse to and approval of the National Assembly contrary to Sections 80(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution.

Thirteenth Allegation: That Mr. President has unilaterally merged the Federal Road Safety Commission, a body established by an Act with the Nigerian Police without a Bill for an Act to harmonise the two bodies, or repeal the FRSC Act.

Fourteenth Allegation: That Mr. President has, without an enabling Act merged the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry (NBCI), the National Economic Reconstruction Fund (NERFUND) and the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank to form the Bank of Industry while the Acts establishing the said institutions are still valid and subsisting. Fifteenth Allegation: That Mr. President merged the People's Bank of Nigeria, Family Economic Advancement Programme, both bodies established by law under and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank to form the Nigerian Agricultural and Rural Development Bank without legislative authority.

Sixteenth Allegation: That in the year 1999, Mr. President appointed Mr. Musiliu Smith as Inspector-General of Police without consultation with the Police Council, contrary to the 1999 Constitution. Seventeenth Allegation: That Mr. President caused the appointment of, and service as Acting Auditor-General of the Federation for a period exceeding six months without Resolution of the Senate contrary to Section 86(3) of the 1999 Constitution which act amounts to gross misconduct.

On September 5, 2002, President Obasanjo, GCFR, made a reply to the seventeen allegations. He declared "I am happy to present my explanations to you not only because it is but also because I have absolute confidence in your integrity and objectivity. Your courage, your experience, your patience, your dedication to our Party and to our country and your understanding of our strength and weaknesses will enable you to appreciate the responses which I now make to the questions that have been raised. I assure you that I am not angry with the complainants and so I shall presents my points dispassionately. From me you shall hear nothing but the truth. All that I have done I have done according to the law. All that I have done is in the best interest of our great country. I have not deliberately violated the law or the constitution and I have not sought personal gain. I am not accused of corruption or misuse of my power.

In a country as complex and complicated as ours no single man or woman can have all the answers. It is for this reason that I have always consulted widely and been pen to suggestions from all quarters. Nevertheless, the ultimate responsibility for the governance of the country is mine and it is I who must answer when questioned like now and before the bar of the public."

In the middle of September 2002, Ghali Umar Na'Abba succumbed to pressure and decided to drop all the allegations made against President Olusegun Obasanjo. In his words "the house has decided to pardon President Obasanjo in the national interest." The Senate at that time presided over by Anyim Pius Anyim (61), was not involved in the impeachment process. Under the Constitution, you need the approval of the two houses, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, before any President can be impeached.

All these events happened between August and September 2002. That is exactly twenty years ago.

Section 143 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) deals with the removal of the president and vice-president from office. It is a very long process, taking at least three months to complete.

143. (1) The President or Vice-President 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 National Assembly:-(a) is presented to the President of the Senate;(b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice-President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the President of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National 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 National Assembly.

(3) Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the President of the Senate (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice) each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated. (4) A motion of the National 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 each House of the National Assembly. (5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions, the Chief Justice of Nigeria shall at the request of the President of the Senate 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 provide 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 and be represented before the Panel by legal practitioners 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 National Assembly; and (b) within three months of its appointment report its findings to each House of the National Assembly. (8) Where the Panel reports to each House of the National 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 at the House the National Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of each House of the National 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 from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.

(10) No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the National Assembly or any matter relating thereto 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 of the National Assembly to gross misconduct".

All those involved, in the impeachment saga of President Obasanjo then, paid dearly for it. Alhaji Ghali Umar Na'Abba did come back to the house in 2003. He lost his election bid to an ANPP member in the Tundun Wada Constituency of Kano state. Alhaji Bello Masari (72) eventually became Speaker of the House of Representatives. Alhaji Ghali Na'Abba's deputy then, Prince Chibudom Nwuche (61) fom Ochigba town in Ahoada East Constitutuency of Rivers state did not come back too in 2003. Prince Nwuche was defeated by Osinakuchukwu Ideazu for the Abua Odua/Ahoada Constituency.

Apart from Chief Oyewole Fasawe, the Asiwaju of Owo, the late Deji of Akure, Oba Adebiyi Adegboye Adesida, Afunbiowo II(1950-2013), my good friend whom I remember always, the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona (88), Professor Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje (1931-2022) the other known friends of President Obasanjo include Chief Obafemi Jonathan Adio Olopade(July 31 1926-2012), Professor Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe(1933-2020), Professor Emmanuel Chukwuma Edozien (November 15, 1937-October 5, 2019) Chief Abiodun Kola Daisi (90), Dr Christopher Olusola Kolade(89) Ambassador Pius Omotayo(78) from Igbara Odo in Ekiti state, Dr Onaolapo Soleye (86) and others.

The role played by Dr Kolade during the impeachment saga of his friend, President Obasanjo was highly complimented. Dr. Kolade flew from London to Abuja immediately and he wrote part of the President Obasanjo's defense, even though we all know that President Obasanjo is a man of letters himself.

Let me say a word about Dr Christopher Kolade. He was born on December 28, 1932 in Iddo-Faboro, Ekiti State. He attended Emmanuel School, Ado-Ekiti, 1939-1943, Christ School, Ado- Ekiti, 1944-1945, Government College Ibadan, 1946-1951, Fouray Bay College, Freetown, 1951-1955; education officer, Western Nigeria, 1955-1960, west regional controller, Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation(NBC), Lagos, 1960-1963, director of Television, NBC, 1963-1968, director of programmes, NBC, 1968-1972, director general, NBC, 1972-1978, administration director, Cadbury Nigeria Limited, 1978, and managing director, 1989.

Now we are told that the PDP Senators are threatening to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. The question is, can they? The provision of the 1999 Constitution gives the National Assembly the power to impeach the President. No doubt they can impeach the President. That is the complexity of the Presidential System of Government we are operating. Let's see how far they can go.

Were we to be operating a Parliamentary System of Government, a simple motion of no confidence will be all that is required to remove any government. A parliamentary system of government promotes good governance, it requires fewer personnel and less cost, faster and quicker decisions are easily made. The parliamentary system of government reduces friction and creates friendship and cooperation.

On the other hand, the Presidential System of Government protects and hides the President no matter his incompetence and acts of divisiveness.

This impeachment threat by some of the Senators should have been made earlier than now. Maybe the situation could have been better. Anyway it is better late than never. There should be penalty for failure, misconduct and inefficiency.

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