The Impeachment of a President or Governor is a matter that must be taken very seriously. This is not just because impeachment is tantamount to unceremoniously sacking the number 1 citizen of the state/country but also because it means the decision via votes cast by citizens is overturned.
In recent history, no Nigerian President has been impeached. However, Governors like Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Peter Obi of Anambra State, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, and Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State have all had a sour taste of impeachment at one time or the Other.
Below are the procedures followed for the impeachment of a Nigerian President/Governor.
A notice in writing must be sent by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) to the Senate President alleging gross misconduct on the part of the President. In the case of the impeachment of a Governor, one-third of the members of the State Assembly must send a notice in writing to the Speaker of the State House of assembly alleging gross misconduct on the part of the Governor. The constitution defines gross misconduct as ’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.’
The Senate President/Speaker of the state HOR must serve the President/Governor and every member of the National Assembly/State Assembly with a copy of the notice of allegation within 7 days.
The President/Governor has the right to reply to the notice of allegation or not. In an instant he does, the statement in reply to the allegation must be served on each member of the National Assembly/ State House of Assembly.
Within 14 days of the presentation of the notice to the Senate President or Speaker of the State HOR, each chamber of the National Assembly/State HOR shall resolve by motion without any debate whether the allegation shall be investigated. This motion needs to be passed by at least a two-thirds majority of all members of each chamber of the National Assembly.
No further action will be taken if the motion fails to reach the two-thirds majority, the process would be stopped immediately. However, suppose the two-thirds majority is obtained and the motion is passed. In that case, the Senate President/Speaker of the HOR will within 7 days of the passing of the motion, request the Chief Justice of Nigeria/Chief Justice of the state to appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegations. The panel members cannot be members of any public service, legislative house, or political party.
The President/Governor 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.
A Panel shall be appointed which 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.
Where the Panel reports that the allegation has not been proven, there will be no further action. However, if the report is that the allegation against the President/Governor has been proven, then the National Assembly/State HOR will consider the report, and a resolution for the adoption of the report shall be moved.
For the resolution to be adopted, it must be supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House. Once adopted, the President/Governor shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.