The Monday’s impeachment of the Imo State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, by the state House of Assembly was not only condemnable but illegal and unconstitutional.
Madumere, for a long time now, has been having a running battle with Governor Rochas Okorocha, his boss, over succession bid in 2019 election. Okorocha had favoured his son-in-law and Chief of Staff, Mr. Uche Nwosu, to succeed him.
Despite an interim injunction by a court of competent jurisdiction in Owerri, restraining the seven–man panel of enquiry from sitting until matter before the court is determined, the state House of Assembly lawmakers who were elected by their constituents to make laws, have turned to be a rubber stamp to the Executive and the Judiciary without following the due process.
The Chief Judge of the state, Justice Paschal Nnadi, had last week, set up a seven-man panel of enquiry to investigate allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Madumere. But Madumere through his lawyer, Ken Njemanze (SAN), earlier filed a motion on the constitutional breaches by the panel and the state lawmakers.
It is instructive to note that the deputy governor has a right of reply while any such statement in reply to the allegations must be served on each member of the House of Assembly.
To put the record straight, the speaker of the House of Assembly must within seven days serve the deputy-Governor and each member of the House with a copy of the notice of allegation. But until his impeachment two days ago, Madumere claimed that he was never served with any notice.
Also, the panel breached processes in which it was constituted by failing to report its findings within three months as enshrined in the constitution. Finally, the process of impeaching Madumere did not follow due process, thereby necessitating the calls for his reinstatement as the deputy governor.
Similarly, in Benue State, eight members of the state House of Assmebly have served Governor Samuel Ortom an impeachment notice.
The process of impeaching a sitting Governor of a state in Nigeria is clearly spelt out in section 188 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and there have been a number of unsuccessful impeachments of the state Governors since 1999.
The process of impeaching a governor as contained in the 1999 Constitutionincludes: notice of any allegation in writing alleging gross misconduct on the part of the Governor. The notice must be signed by not less than one-third of the members of the House of Assembly before it is presented to the speaker.
As the impeachment drama continues in Benue by eight out of thirty state House of Assembly members, we are of the opinion that the infamous action should be condemned by all and sundry.
The eight legislators, all belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) who took over the chambers without the mace (symbol of Authority of the House) and the clerk, were protected by heavily armed policemen and operatives of the Department of the State Services (DSS) preventing the 22 other members, all belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from entering the chambers.
We wish to finally state that eight out of 30 lawmakers is not enough to impeach a sitting Governor while the state Assembly should follow due process and stop the mockery on both legislature and judiciary in the interest of our nascent democracy.