The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) has made adequate provisions for the removal of the President, Vice President, Governors or Deputy Governors from office and until we begin to give effect to this very important part of the Constitution, our democracy will remain in limbo or comatose and abuse of power especially from the chief executives will remain fashionable and the people will only wait for four (4) years or election to change ineffective leadership no matter how bad it is.
For this aim, we need to have a quick look at provisions of section 143 and 188 of the 1999 Constitution which deals with the removal of President and Vice President and of Governors and Deputy Governors respectively.
In my opinion, it is very clear that both sections provide for the same procedures. Therefore, we need to look at them one after another as follows:
Step One (1)
Notice of removal of the office holder signed by not less than one-third 1/3 of members sent to the President of Senate or Speaker, stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct. (Sec. 143 (2) or 188 (2) of the Constitution).
Step Two (2)
The President of Senate or Speaker shall within seven (7) days caused the allegation in specified details to be served on the office holder and on each member along with any reply from the said holder of office. (Sec. 143 (2) 188 (2) of the Constitution).
Step Three (3)
The President of Senate or Speaker shall within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the Notice of Removal, whether replied by the office holder or not, by way of motion without debate from each House of the National Assembly or House of Assembly resolved if the allegations shall be investigated or not. Passed by not less than two-third 2/3 majority of members. (Sec. 143 (3) (4) or 188 (3) (4) of the Constitution).
Step Four (4)
The President of the Senate or Speaker shall, within seven (7) days of passing the motion to investigate, request the Chief Justice of Nigeria or Chief Judge of the State, to appoint a Panel of seven (7) 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. (Sec. 143 (5) or 188 (5) of the Constitution).
Step Five (5)
The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated, shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the Panel by legal practitioners of his own choice. (Sec. 143 (6) or 188 (6) of the Constitution).
Step Six (6)
The Panel shall have such powers and shall exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the National Assembly or House of Assembly and shall report its findings to the each House of the National Assembly or House of Assembly within three (3) months of its appointment. (Sec. 143 (7) or 188 (7) of the Constitution).
Step Seven (7)
Where the Panel reports to each House of the National Assembly or the House of Assembly that the allegation has not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter. That’s the end. (Sec. 143 (8) or 188 (8) of the Constitution)
Step Eight (8)
Where the report of the Panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within fourteen (14) days of the receipt of the report at the House the National Assembly or House of Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of each House of the National Assembly or of the House of Assembly supported by not less than two-third 2/3 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.
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.
Gross Misconduct means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly or House of Assembly to gross misconduct.
I believe with this simplified steps for the removal of the occupants of the offices of the President, Vice President, Governors or Deputy Governors, the Legislative arm will begin to see how easy it is to remove those executives who commit Gross Misconduct, as it is left within their discretion to determine what amount to Gross Misconduct.
By: Barr. S G Idress (Idrees Gambo) of S. G Idress & Co., (Al-Mufeed Law Firm). No. S 250, Suite 2, Nafamalsa Plaza, Murtala Muh’d Way, Bauchi, Bauchi State.