The recent impeachment threat against President Muhammadu Buhari in the National Assembly may have fizzled out.
The development followed the emergence of fresh facts on government’s efforts in tackling the security challenge across the country.
The threat was issued by Senators mainly from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday, July 26 in the aftermath of the posting on social media of a video by terrorists flogging some of the abducted train passengers in their captivity.
The terrorists had also threatened to unleash more horror on the country.
The senators who were later joined by some members of the House of Representatives were outraged by the audacity of the gunmen, and what they perceived as government’s failure to deal with insecurity in the country.
They gave the president a six-week ultimatum to find a solution.
According to The Nation, the National Assembly has since received concrete assurance from the Presidency and the military that the security situation in the country will improve drastically within a month.
Many of the Buhari-must-go campaigners are also said to have recanted and pledged loyalty to the National Assembly leadership.
Besides the assurance from the Presidency and the military to check the security crisis, it was gathered that most of the proponents of the impeachment took cognizance of the fact that the plot might fail in the end in view of the fast approaching 2023 elections.
Sources said some lawmakers, especially those from the North, fear that their involvement in the plot could cost them a return ticket to the National Assembly.
The Northern lawmakers cited former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’abba, who they said went into political oblivion after allegedly coordinating impeachment process against ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It was gathered that some lawmakers are of the view that the nine months left for the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to quit does not encourage impeachment now and the legislature may not be able to meet up with the technicalities of impeachment.
Some of the technicalities include the signing of a notice by one-third of members of the two chambers of the National Assembly and a three-month investigation period of allegations against the president.
Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution specifies eight steps for impeachment.
A ranking Senator described the process as cumbersome.
“The conditions precedent for impeachment are cumbersome. There is no way the 9th National Assembly can remove Buhari from office because it cannot meet constitutional requirement,” he told The Nation.
“Insecurity is actually insufficient to ask a President to leave office. The constitution is emphatic on corruption and gross abuse of office.
“Most of the Senators and members of the House of Representatives have seen it that it will be futile to pursue impeachment against Buhari.
“Actually, what played out on the floor was not what we agreed at the executive session of the Senate. Some PDP senators were only trying to be politically smart.
“We reached a consensus that the security situation in the country was bad and we ought to draw the attention of the government to it.”
A principal officer said: “The opposition does not have the number to sack Buhari. They succeeded in crying out but we knew they were not sincere.
“Some of those shouting can be rated more as APC in spirit than PDP. They even have more sympathy for Buhari than those of us in the ruling party.
“In the fullness of time, we will reel out names of these PDP lawmakers who are closer to the seat of power.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “Some of these lawmakers in the opposition have recanted and pledged loyalty to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“Mark my words, the impeachment plot has crumbled. You will see what will happen when we are back in session.
“In any case, the President of the Senate faulted the so-called motion. So, there is nothing on ground to confirm any sign of impeachment notice.”
A Senator from the Northeast said: “When we met with security chiefs, we were able to come to terms with the realities on ground.
“Impeachment is not the solution but how to rally round the military to curtail the security problems facing the country.
“In 2015, there were security threats to the general election from only the North-East. But now, insecurity is in all parts of the country.
“Is it impeachment we need or outright solution? We are not even sure of the 2023 polls holding in many parts of the country.
“The security chiefs released facts and figures which dazed us. But they assured us that with the response of the Presidency, the situation will improve in the next one month.
“And for those of us from the North, any involvement in the impeachment move against Buhari can lead to defeat in the general election. I have not forgotten Na’abba’s experience.”
A PDP Senator admitted that the “timelines for campaign, elections and removal process cannot be met in the remaining months left for Buhari.
“If you study Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution very well, about eight steps are involved if we want to impeach Buhari. I am a realist. It looks impossible.
“But we have made our points and Nigerians are in agreement with us that the security challenges have worsened.
“I have weighed all options, we cannot go far with the impeachment plot.”
Another PDP Senator said: “By the time we return from recess, 2023 poll campaign will occupy our time. I don’t think anyone will be talking of impeachment again.”
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.
(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 provided 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.”
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