Posted by John nwokocha on
First of all there is no provision in the Nigerian 1999 constitution about how a governor can be impeached in absentia.
Can Governor Alamieseigha be impeached?
First of all there is no provision in the Nigerian 1999 constitution about how a governor can be impeached in absentia. Because section 188 of the constitution reads: be it the removal of the governor or deputy governor, clearly states in sub section 2 that: ďWhenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one thirds of members of the House of Assembly to be presented by the speaker of House of Assembly of the state stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in performance of function of his office. The speaker of the House of Assembly shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a cop6y of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of Assembly and shall also cause any statement made in reply by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the House of Assembly. This means personal serving of notice on the holder of the office.
It proceeds in sub section 3, to say that within 14 days of presentation of the notice by the speaker whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the notice, the House of Assembly shall resolve this by motion without any delay whether or not the allegation shall be investigated. a motion by the house of Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be cleared as having been passed unless itís supported by votes of not less than two thirds majority of the House of Assembly within seven days of the passing of motion under foregoing provisions of this section.
The chief Judge of the state shall at the request of the speaker of the House appoint a panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestional integrity not being members of any public service existing as political party. Subtle, says the holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person or be represented before the panel by a legal practitioner of his own choice. The emphasise is on the right to defend himself in person.
The two provisions that are material in this instance, one is the provision that says; he has to be served in person. That means they would have to go to London and serve him in person. The second provision says: he has a right to defend himself in person. So if the governor elects to defend himself in person, he doesnít want to appoint a solicitor to defend him, and if he cannot be allowed to travel out of London, to come and defend himself, the procedure can not continue. Basically, what section 188 provides is personal contact with the holder of the office. By these provisions, the governor cannot be impeached in absentia.
It will be a travesty of justice to impeach Alamieseigha in his absence. Already the Bayelsa House of Assembly had taken some steps to remedy the lacuna in the sense that the prolonged unanticipated absence of the governor cause them to vote the deputy governor to function as acting governor. That means he has all the constitutional powers to execute the office of the governor.
For political expediency, for executive functions, they have filled a vacuum.
Those who are so eager to commit this travesty of injustice should search their conscience. Because he who goes to equity must go with clean hands. It is sad that Alamieseigha has broken a law somewhere, must you break our law in your self righteousness , including violation of our constitution, in order to hang Alamieseigha. Two wrongs can never make a right. The facts remains that the governor and those who are after him are inferior to the constitution. Those who are in office should know that the only way you can show yourself to be a man who should be respected is that you also have respect for the law, and you submit yourself to the rule of law. You cannot violate the rule of law in order to get at somebody.
How long can the acting governor act?
The constitution never envisaged this scenario. Because the constitution invests the office of the governor and deputy governor with immunity from prosecution while they bear office. Some of us still maintain that Alamieseigha cannot be prosecuted. The present circumstances in which the governor is being prosecuted is a violation of the constitution. I have no doubt that the House of Lords will not uphold any conviction of Alamieseigha, if it goes through the gamut of the British judicial system, the immunity that is granted him by the constitution of federal Republic of Nigeria, by international law will be upheld and he will return home. But by the time he comes home, a lot of damage must have been done to him. Thatís why his traducers want to use his delayed absence to ensure heís removed from office so that he can no longer invoke his immunity. If they say this is not true, then, let them not try to remove him from the office.
I maintain that the constitutional immunity he enjoys is sovereign, inviolable, so long as he maintains the office of the governor of Bayelsa state. The federal government of Nigeria must have been properly advised that that is the position in law. The fact is that the whole haste directed towards his impeachment.
We know that we are under a Ghana must go democracy. The legislative houses submit not to the forces of the constitution, but to the weight of Ghana-must go.
These terms and conditions contain rules about posting comments. By submitting a comment, you are declaring that you agree with these rules:
Failure to comply with these rules may result in being banned from further commenting.
These terms and conditions are subject to change at any time and without notice.