Court Shies Away From Granting Application To Stop Jonathan's Impeachment
ABUJA, September 14, (THEWILL) - A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday passed up a platter-of-gold opportunity to halt what is almost certain to be the launch of impeachment proceedings by the Federal House of Representatives against President Goodluck Jonathan over percentage implementation of the 2012 budget.
While it is glaring that the Executive can no longer execute the budget 100 per cent, the House has continued to maintain its stance on 100 per cent implementation without which an attempt, at least, will be made at impeaching the president.
On Thursday, National Chairman of African Liberation Party (ALP) Dr. Emmanuel Osita Okereke, applied to the court for an order to stop the House from carrying out its impeachment threat, saying the noise over the move is capable of distracting the president from discharging his duties.
The defendants in the suit are the speaker of the House of Representatives, the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, and President Goodluck Jonathan.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Alex William argued that since his client plans to contest for the presidency in 2015, impeaching the president would create chaos. In his affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff argued that the planned impeachment has been heating up the polity.
He added that the September deadline issued by the House for 100 per cent implementation of the budget is three months earlier than the end of the 2012 calendar year and six months from the end of the 2012 budget/fiscal year, and therefore intended to cause political turmoil.
But Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the court must be very certain that the impeachment proceeding is on course before entertaining the suit. This, he explained, was to avoid interference with the responsibilities of the legislative arm of government.
He said that Sections 143 (1) and (10) of the 1999 Constitution, which laid down the procedures for the removal of a sitting president, require a joint impeachment resolution of both arms of the National Assembly before the president could be removed. He said, too, that by not joining the Senate as a party to the suit, the motion ex-parte could not succeed.
His words: “This may not be the proper occasion for this court to grant ex parte order against the 2nd and 3rd defendants, (House of Representatives and the National Assembly) as the reliefs sought by the plaintiff largely benefit the president and not the applicant.”
In addition to holding that the applicant has nothing to lose if the application is refused, he refused the ex parte order and adjourned the matter sine die to enable the Chief Judge of the court re-assign the case, knowing that his mandate to sit as vacation judge would expire the same day. He also said that he needed time to study the processes to enable him deliver his ruling.
While arguing the application, Justice Kolawole expressed doubts that the impeachment process could lead to chaos, emphasising that any impeachment process not backed by law would certainly collapse.
“I am not a politician,” he said. “I will not convert my chamber to an alternative chamber of the National Assembly. I don’t see any reason for chaos. You are only trying to create panic.”