Short-titled “An Act to Alter the Provisions of Section 143 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Remove Ambiguities in the Process of Removal of the President and the Vice President from Office on Allegations of Gross Misconduct,” the bill seeks to make the lower Chamber the impeaching House, while the Senate would after the impeachment of the President or his Deputy, set up a quasi-judicial panel headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and comprising lawmakers acting as prosecutors, before a final verdict either finds the President or his vice guilty or not.
Sponsored by international lawyer and Chairman of the Committee on House Services Hon. Yakubu Dogara (PDP-Bauchi) and two others, the bill states in part: “The President or Vice-President shall be removed from office on allegations of gross misconduct in accordance with the provisions of this section.”
The Bill seeks to amend sub-section 2 of 143 to read that, “Whenever the Committee of the House of Representatives in charge of Judiciary decides on whether or not to proceed with impeachment proceedings against the holder of the office of the President or Vice President on allegations of gross misconduct.
According to the Bill, “the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary of the House of Representatives shall propose a motion to begin an inquiry into such allegations of gross misconduct, and if the motion is passed by a simple majority of the House, the Committee shall be mandated to carry out an inquiry into the allegations.”
The Bill further proposes that “The committee on Judiciary upon conclusion of such an inquiry shall present its findings to the whole House, stating that impeachment is warranted encompassed in Articles of Impeachment, or that impeachment is not called for”.
The Bill also proposes that “If any Article of Impeachment so considered by the House of Representatives is approved or passed by a simple majority vote of members been present and voting, the President or Vice-President shall be impeached”.
Continuing, the Bill states that “Upon the impeachment of the holder of the office by the House of Representatives, the Speaker shall within 7 days transmit the House Resolution to the Senate for Trial”, and also “The Senate shall within fourteen days of the receipt of the House Resolution conduct a trial to be presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, with a select Committee of the House of the House members serving as prosecutors.
The Bill in part, however proposes that the impeached Executive “shall have the right to defend himself in person and be represented before the Senate by Legal Practitioners of his choice”.
The Senate, on its part would vote after the trial process is exhausted by a 2/3 to oust the President or his vice.
One of the drafters of the piece of legislation weekend, said the Bill was fashioned in line with the procedure for impeachment of the Executive in the United States of America.
He said “The idea is to make impeaching the President easier and more democratic.”
He added, “The Bill though is not targetted at any particular person, the present times call for an easier process of impeachment”.