Due to the high rate of corruption and tribalism in Nigeria, it is difficult to believe that there have been any governor or president that has been impeached from office in the history of Nigeria. Well, the truth is that, the procedure for impeaching a leader in Nigeria is very cumbersome. That notwithstanding, there have been some governors that were impeached from office in Nigeria. In this article, i will make a comprehensive list of governors that has been impeached in Nigeria, but before doing that, it is very important to understand what impeachment really means in Nigeria.
Impeachment is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as casting doubt or challenging the credibility or validity of a testimony or character of a person. Politically it is charges levelled against a government official by the Legislative. Impeachment itself does not remove an official from office.
It is similar to an indictment. In some countries the official is removed for the duration of the trial while in others he remains. Due to the fact that it is a subversion of the constitutional process of electing and removing officials and the rigorous procedures needed, it is normally reserved for serious abuses of Office and misdemeanour like Bribery, Treason etc.
Impeachment in Nigeria is provided for in section 143 of the 1999 constitution. This section explains the procedures to be followed in impeaching an elected official in Nigeria. However, our purpose now is to look at instances where Elected Officials were impeached as well as issues that arose from it.
Nigerian Governors that have been impeached before
Below is the list of governors in Nigeria that was impeached
- Governor Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti State)
- Governor Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State)
- Governor Joshua Dariye (Jos State)
- Peter Ob (Anambra State)
- Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa state)
- Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo State)
Above is just a list of the governors that were impeached in Nigeria at some point during their tenure. As we continue, I will give you more information about their impeachment and the reasons that led to it. Thus, I enjoin you to continue reading this work.
1. Governor Ayodele Fayose
Governor Ayodele Fayose was impeached on October 15th 2006 along with his deputy Mrs Obiodun Olujimi on charges of corruption. Governor Fayose was accused of embezzling state funds , especially in the Ekiti State Poultry Project which was handled by his childhood Friend and contractor Gbenga James.
The said Mr James testified against Fayose. Investigations revealed that James used N9.25million to build a house in Ibadan, Oyo State for Fayose and bought a Mercedes Benz worth N2.1million for his mother amongst other things. The speaker was immediately announced as the acting Governor the same day at noon.
Meanwhile Governor Fayose was believed to have fled the country to avoid being arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. This led to a serious constitutional crisis as the deputy governor insisted that she was the acting governor and formed a parallel government in the same state.
Moreover on April 14, 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the Court of Appeal which had earlier affirmed Governor Fayose’s victory. The apex court also said that Fayose was not validly impeached.
2. Governor Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State)
Governor Murtala Nyako was impeached by the state house of assembly on July 15th 2014. He was removed by the state house of Assembly on allegations of gross misconduct. Out of 25 members sitting 17 adopted the results of the panel that probed the allegations against him. The report found the governor guilty of 16 counts of gross misconduct levelled against him by the house.
The House after impeaching him passed a motion for the house speaker to be acting Governor. This was because the Deputy Governor had resigne to avoid being impeached. However as was the case with Fayose the Impeachment process was marred with irregularities.
The Court of Appeal reversed the Impeachment of Governor Nyako citing that there was lack of fair hearing. The Impeachment was therefore declared null and void. The Governor though was not allowed to return to office because his tenure had already ended.
3. Governor Joshua Dariye (Jos state)
Governor Joshua Dariye (Jos state) was impeached as the Executive Governor of Plateau State, Nigeria on 13 November 2006 on alleged siphon of public fund and money laundering in London. Gov. Dariye of Plateau State of Nigeria was impeached in Jos, the capital of Plateau State after a legislative panel set up to try him for corruption submitted its findings to a 5-man House of Assembly.
The Deputy Governor Michael Botmang was immediately sworn in as acting Governor. However On March 10, 2007, after a Court of Appeal ordered Dariye reinstated as governor, the Plateau State Government announced its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court.
On 27 April 2007, the Supreme Court refused the appeal of the Plateau State Government and ordered the reinstatement of Dariye with immediate effect.
4. Peter Obi (Anambra State)
On 2 November 2006, Governor Peter Obi was impeached by the state house of assembly after seven months in office and was replaced the next day by Virginia Etiaba, his deputy, making her the first-ever female governor in Nigeria’s history.
Obi successfully challenged his impeachment and was re-instated as the governor on 9 February 2007 by the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu. Etiaba handed power back to him after the court ruling.
5. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa state)
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa state was impeached as the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria on 9 December 2005 on alleged corruption which includes, theft of public funds, abuse of office, and money laundering properties and funds amounting to millions of dollars were found in his possession.
6. Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo State)
On 12 January 2006, Governor Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State was impeached by Oyo State legislators and forced out of office. His deputy, Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, was sworn in as the new governor.
On 1 November 2006, the Appeal Court in the state capital, Ibadan, declared the impeachment null and illegal, but advised waiting for confirmation of this decision by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the decision on 11 November 2009, and Ladajo officially resumed office on 12 December 2006.
How a Governor can be constitutionally impeached in Nigeria
Below are the steps and requirements for removing a governor from office in Nigeria:
Step 1: There must be a notice of any allegation in writing, positing gross misconduct on the part of the Governor. This notice must be signed by not less than one-third of the members of the State House of Assembly and must be presented to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.
Step 2: Speaker of the State House of Assembly will, within 7 days, serve the Governor of the State and each member of the State House of Assembly with a copy of the notice of allegation
Step 3: The Governor will then be allowed to reply to the allegation and his reply will be served on each member of the State House of Assembly.
Step 4: Within 14 days of the presentation of the notice to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the State House of Assembly will 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 the State House of Assembly.
Step 5: 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 Speaker of the State House of Assembly will within 7 days of the passing of the motion, request the Chief Judge of the State 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.
Step 6: The Panel is to report its findings within three months of being appointed. The findings will be reported to the State House of Assembly. During the proceedings of the Panel, the Governor shall have a right to defend himself, and shall also have the right to be defended by a legal practitioner of his/her choice.
Step 7: 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 Governor has been proven, then the State House of Assembly will consider the report, and a resolution for the adoption of the report shall be moved.
Step 8: For the resolution to be adopted, it must be supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all the member the State House of Assembly. Once adopted the Governor shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.
From my discussion so far, it is clear that almost all the Impeachment cases mentioned above has one issue in common. They were fraught with irregularities and some were overturned by the supreme court, but the instability it caused and the damage tends to be extensive. Therefore there are questions about the manner that impeachment are used as a method to remove unbending governors.
Should it be so? From the definition it means to balance the powers of the government. Impeachment procedures should be followed rigorously for guilt to be ascertained and to prevent lengthy court cases which does no good.
The major reason for overturning of Impeachments in Nigeria is irregularities in following laid down procedure. Should Impeachments be done along party lines? These are questions that if answered will go a long way in making the process smooth and credible.