Dangerous abuse of impeachment powers

1999 ConstitutionThe 1999 Constitution, as did the 1979 document, provides for the removal of certain elected officers through legislative action. They are mainly the President and his Vice, the governors and their deputies. The process is widely known as impeachment, eventhough there is no mention of that word in the Constitution. It does not specify offences that may warrant the removal of the listed elected officers. It only talks of ‘gross misconduct.’ This is an omnibus term which gives the legislators an endless leeway that they abuse with barefaced impunity.

In the case of Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa of Kaduna state during the second republic, the NPN dominated House took advantage of these ill-defined offences in 1981 to slam a speedy impeachment on him. Just a fortnight ago, the PDP dominated Adamawa state House o Assembly used the same NPN style to impeach Governor Murtala Nyako. As much as we believe that the impeachment process is legal and constitutional, it is clear in both the case of Balarabe Musa and Nyako that the process was rushed, politically motivated and glaringly punitive and vindictive.

This is rather unfortunate because the intention of the framers of the Constitution was to check the excesses of a renegade executive by the legislature; it was to be a weapon of last resort and not a political axe to cut down political adversaries. Murtala Nyako may not be an example of the best PDP or the best governor in Nigeria; but he is also not the worst. He has been in the PDP all along. Even some of the offences for which he has been impeached were allegedly committed five years ago. In fact, a few months ago before his defection to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), the PDP dominated House passed a unanimous vote of confidence in him.

The road to his current travails started when he defected to the APC. Clearly, this is a case of political vendetta and not a crusade for prudence in management of state resources. The greatest evidence to show that Nyako is a victim of political brigandage is the statement credited to the Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly, Alhaji Ahmadu Fintiri who led the assault against Nyako and has, since the governor’s impeachment, taken over as acting governor. He said he has succeeded in bringing back to the PDP its stolen mandate. So the ouster of Nyako was not a fight against ‘gross misconduct’ but a partisan political affray?

The fight then came down to Nasarawa state where another PDP dominated House was hell-bent on impeaching Governor Tanko Al -makura on thinly veiled political grounds. Somehow, the plot backfired and the lawmakers were left to stew in their own vomit. We understand the Borno, Yobe, Oyo, Rivers, Delta state governors might soon be made to swallow the bitter PDP pill. With the fluid security situation in the country, it is amazing that the PDP which controls the federal government and all security agencies in the country is hell-bent on igniting an inferno which will consume us all. We wish to remind the PDP that the present crop of governors have less than one year to stay in office. If they have failed to deliver on their electioneering promises, it is left for the voters of the various states to boot them out in the next elections. Embarking on a whole sale campaign of sacking opposition state governors few months before elections is another way of doing what a PDP president once said: “The forthcoming elections are a do or die affair”.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *