Opinion: To impeach a president!

John Nima

The president has immunity from prosecution in the 1999 Constitution. Even if he should behead the Senate President in Eagle Square, he is immune to prosecution. He could prejudicially remove a Chief Justice of the Federation and replace with his Imam that studied Sharia Jurisprudence in Afghanistan. Whatever extremely serious crimes he could commit, the only “court” where he could be tried is the Senate!

Could the Senate really put a Nigerian President on trial? Let’s explore the facts:

The Section 143 of the Constitution provides that a president be impeached for gross misconduct. The process takes about 4 months. The Chief Justice of the Federation must set up a 7-man panel to investigate the allegations against a president!

On being indicted, the president faces the national assembly to answer to his charges. Afterwards, a two-third majority is required in the assembly to impeach the president.

Here’s the reality:

Section 5 gives all executive powers to the president. He has the powers to appoint the Heads of all the Security Agencies, EFCC, CPC, etc. He controls the Judiciary by proxy, he appointed the Chief Justice by legal/constitutional gymnastics. He employs Executive Orders when he so wishes. He controls the Treasury.

The president of Nigeria at any point in time is not a mere mortal; he’s a god! But what if he be accused of gross misconduct? Only the Senate could put him on trial and discipline him.

To put him on trial, the Senate needs a 1/3rd majority to ratify the allegation. Maybe that could be mustered. So the Senate writes to the Chief Justice to set up a panel. Okay na…which of them? The letter runs into hot waters and the Senate President that transmits the letter is given the Dino Treatment.

Let’s assume the CJN by some miracle set up the 7-man panel to investigate the president. If I were on that panel, I would declare that I died a day before and be excused! You see?

But let’s assume the panel did hold and the president was indicted. So he was called to appear before the Senate, I am certain that the DSS, Airforce, Infantry, Civil Defense and all others would appear in his stead. In fact, no member of the National Assembly would appear that day as they would all plead family emergencies or plead that INEC should recall them that day through their constituencies.

But by some stroke of luck, the president did appear and the Senate decided to vote. By virtue of the North/South divide already enshrined in the 1999 Constitution with 58 to 51 members in favor of the North, a 2/3rd majority would never be! Take 12 core Northern states and observe that they have 36 senators. With that alone, the 2/3rd requirement is defeated.

….and so on. You may reverse it and do the same for a Southern president; same results. 12 states from the Southern part and the president stays!

Yes, some people could say that the Senate and others should lobby for votes and all to get a 2/3rd to impeach a president, right? As you lobby, some of you would have treatments so bad that Senator Dino Melaye would weep for you…others would simply disappear!

Oh! On the current president, he made his gambit about 3 weeks to the 2019 elections. The impeachment process takes about 4 months. It wouldn’t get off the ground before elections. If it did and continued towards May 29th when he would be sworn in as president, a new Senate is convened and the whole process collapses like a pack of cards!

My dear friends, you CANNOT impeach any president of Nigeria; most definitely not this one! It is a Mission Impossible. Time we quit being emotional and got real. The 1999 Constitution is a lockdown document cleverly woven with mischievous clauses. You can’t get past that document to effect a restructuring. It is a mission very impossible.

You don’t impeach a president in Nigeria; you pray (sic!), after all that’s all we do in Nigeria; we pray! SMH…

To get the country restructured, it would NEVER be through the instruments of the 1999 Constitution; I solemnly assure you. Yet, we must #restructureOrBurst; that’s as certain as the sun rises at dawn.

It’s time we reflected on that Constitution and the futility of elections hoping to get a critical mass into elected offices to change that Constitution; it’s not going to happen!

That Constitution has placed Nigeria solidly on the Path of Destruction; the only solution is to discard it totally or torpedo it! Caressing it while hoping that someone Messiahs would come to change it is worse that Waiting for Godot! The 1999 Constitution MUST go!