Impeaching a sitting President in Nigeria is a very serious matter. It is serious not simply because it amounts to effectively ‘sacking’ the number one citizen of the country, but also because it amounts to reversing the decision of a majority of the citizens of Nigerians, who have placed the President in that office for a stated term by voting for the President in a Presidential election.
Steps for impeaching the President:
A notice of any allegation in writing alleging gross misconduct on the part of the President. This notice must be signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly (both the Senate and House of Representatives) is presented to the Senate President.
* Gross misconduct is defined by the Constitution 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 must within 7 days, serve the President and each member of the National Assembly with a copy of the notice of allegation.
The President has a right of reply (he/she does not have to reply however), and any such statement in reply to the allegation must be served on each member of the National Assembly.
Within 14 days of the presentation of the notice to the Senate President, each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated. This motion needs to be passed by at least two-thirds majority of all members of each House of Assembly.
If the motion fails to reach the required majority, the process immediately stops, and no further action will be taken. However, if the required majority is obtained and the motion is passed, then the Senate President will within 7 days of the passing of the motion, request the Chief Justice of Nigeria to appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity to investigate the allegations. The members of the Panel cannot be members of any public service, legislative house or political party.
The Panel is to report its findings within three months of being appointed. The findings will be reported to each House of the National Assembly. During the proceedings of the Panel, the President shall have a right to defend himself, and shall also have the right to be defended by a legal practitioner of his/her choice.
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 has been proven, then the National Assembly 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 shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
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