By Eric Teniola
From last week, the piece continues with the allegations contained in the impeachment notice the House of Representatives served President Olusegun Obasanjo on August 2002
Eleventh Allegation: That Mr. President has refused to appoint a Minister of Petroleum Resources which action has occasioned the following violation: (a) That since inception of this Government in 1999 Mr. President refused, failed and or neglected to appoint a Minister of Petroleum Resources contrary to the Petroleum Act cap 350, laws of the Federation as amended by the Petroleum (Amendment) Act of 1996 and Petroleum (Amendment) Act No. 22 of 1998 and thereby authorising the performance of or performing yourself the functions of the Minister of Petroleum Resources. (b) That in breach of Section 9( I) d III laws of the Federation 1990 appointed the Committee which has increased the prices of petroleum products which function is that of a Minister of Petroleum Resources under the said Act, which Act constitutes a gross misconduct. (c) That a process of establishing refineries through bidding was established and provisional licenses were issued without the approval of the Minister of Petroleum as required by 3( I) of the Petroleum Act which action amounts to gross misconduct.
Twelfth Allegation: That Mr. President has unilaterally cut across board all overhead costs contained in the 2002 Appropriation Act by 50 % without recourse to and approval of the National Assembly contrary to Sections 80(3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution.
Thirteenth Allegation: That Mr. President has unilaterally merged the Federal Road Safety Commission, a body established by an Act with the Nigeria Police without a Bill for an Act to harmonise the two bodies, or repeal the FRSC Act.
Fourteenth Allegation: That Mr. President has, without an enabling Act merged the Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry, NBCI, the National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND, and the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank to form the Bank of Industry while the Acts establishing the said institutions are still valid and subsisting. Fifteenth Allegation: That Mr. President merged the People’s Bank of Nigeria, Family Economic Advancement Programme, both bodies established by law under and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank to form the Nigerian Agricultural and Rural Development Bank without legislative authority.
Sixteenth Allegation: That in the year 1999, Mr. President appointed Mr. Musiliu Smith as Inspector-General of Police without consultation with the Police Council, contrary to the 1999 Constitution. Seventeenth Allegation: That Mr. President caused the appointment of, and service as Acting Auditor-General of the Federation for a period exceeding six months without Resolution of the Senate contrary to Section 86(3) of the 1999 Constitution which act amounts to gross misconduct.
On September 5, 2002, President Obasanjo, made a reply to the 17 allegations. He declared: “I am happy to present my explanations to you… because I have absolute confidence in your integrity and objectivity. Your courage, your experience, your patience, your dedication to our Party and to our country and your understanding of our strength and weaknesses will enable you to appreciate the responses which I now make to the questions that have been raised.
I assure you that I am not angry with the complainants and so I shall presents my points dispassionately. From me you shall hear nothing but the truth. All that I have done I have done according to the law. All that I have done I have done in the best interest of our great country. I have not deliberately violated the law or the constitution and I have not sought personal gain. I am not accused of corruption or misuse of my power.
In a country as complex and complicated as ours no single man or woman can have all the answers. It is for this reason that I have always consulted widely and been pen to suggestions from all quarters. Nevertheless, the ultimate responsibility for the governance of the country is mine and it is I who must answer when questioned like now and before the bar of the public.”
In the middle of September 2002, Ghali Umar Na’Abba succumbed to pressure and decided to drop all the allegations made against President Obasanjo. In his words: “The house has decided to pardon President Obasanjo in the national interest.” The Senate at that time presided over by Anyim Pius Anyim (61), was not involved in the impeachment process. Under the Constitution, you need the approval of the two houses, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, before any President can be impeached.
All these events happened between August and September 2002. That is exactly 20 years ago.
Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) deals with the removal of the president and vice-president from office. It is a very long process, taking at least three months to complete.
143. (1) The President or Vice-President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section. (2) Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly:-(a) is presented to the President of the Senate;(b) stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice-President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified, the President of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.