Few days ago, a civil group, Coalition for Good Governance and Anti-Corruption, called for the impeachment of the Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, by the National Assembly. The said civil group gave the National Assembly just fourteen days warning to commence the impeachment proceeding, Aso Rock be rocked by a protest march.
Well, I am not too concerned about the political aspect of the warning, for we all know the opposition (or to some antagonistic) role that Governor Fayose is playing in our polity. In fact, I am not too concerned, at least for the purpose of this piece, about the accusations levelled against this governor. Just like the way the law won’t at times look at the moral aspects of cases, so will I not look at the morality of this warning. My concern is the law.
As a people living in a society which was itself created by law, our actions – and at times inactions – must be guided and governed by the law. It is not very constitutional to demand that the National Assembly impeach a state governor, for any reason whatsoever. The law is very clear in respect of the question whether the National Assembly can impeach a governor. Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution has vested the power to impeach or remove the governor of a state only on the state House of Assembly.
Equally, the only power the National Assembly has is to impeach either the President or Vice-President – see Section 143 of the 1999 constitution – and not a state governor. So, as a matter of law, the National Assembly has no power whatsoever to commence impeachment on any state governor. If it does so, such act will be declared ultra vires. As such, the call to impeach Fayose from this civil group is by its very nature unconstitutional and should be urgently discarded.
Nigeria is a federal state. And there is division of powers between the Federal government and the component states. The people of Ekiti State have elected Fayose and they are the only people recognized by law to remove him. And the people – through their elected representatives – can kick him out of office on the basis of gross misconduct. The men in agbada at the National Assembly are powerless in terms of impeaching a state governor. You can only impeach a person if you participated in the election that ushered him in. And these men at the National Assembly didn’t participate in Ekiti’s election.
In fact, the law enforcement agencies, particular the police, should not allow that protest to be staged. Since no impeachment proceedings can be commenced by the National Assembly and the group expects action that from the National Assembly – or else its members would protest- it will be unreasonable to allow such a protest to be staged; for it is planted in the soil of unconstitutionality. Disappointedly, it will be apposite to prophesy that the law enforcement agencies will appear very helpless to discontinue this illegal display. The system and virtually everything has been politicized. If it were not, our security agencies should have restricted members of the group from protesting.
Sadly, if it were a protest for a just, constitutional and legal cause, the security agencies would have been jumping around in the name of whatever reason, just to ensure that protest is not staged. If the protest men turn deaf ears, there is the probability that our “law enforcement agents” will wreck havoc on the D-day. But, where there is illegality, they appear helpless. This is shameful!
The above analysis and advise given is not a deliberate attempt to liberate Governor Fayose from impeachment. If he is guilty of any impeachable offences, he should be forced out. Neither is this essay a means to defend Fayose, or a means to restrict the group’s fundamental freedom to protest or express concerns as enshrined in the constitution. No. It is all about cautioning illegality and unconstitutionality in our society. What is unlawful is unlawful, no matter the good intention, assuming that there is one in the present case.