Yar'Adua's failure to write National Assembly is an impeachable offence.
The prolong absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua from government without handing over to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan is a gross violation of section 145 of the Nigerian constitution and hence an impeachable offence. Section 145 mandates the
president to formally inform the national assembly of is medical trip and transfer power to the vice president in an acting capacity. This episode also marks the jurisprudence of constitutional supremacy and its effect on the office of the president in our democracy Constitutional impeachment provisions were copied from English practice to the degree the section on impeachment was.
In England, impeachment was a device to remove from office one who abused his office, misbehaved, or neglect of duty but who was protected by the Crown. President Andrew Johnson of the United States in 1869 was impeached by the House on the ground that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act of 1775 by dismissing a Cabinet chief. The US Congress, in impeaching President Johnson stated that,
''An impeachable high crime or misdemeanor is one in its nature or consequences subversive of some fundamental or essential principle of government or highly prejudicial to the public interest, and this may consist of a violation of the Constitution, of law, of an official oath, or of duty, by an act committed or omitted, or, without violating a positive law, by the abuse of discretionary powers from improper motives or for an improper purpose.
” Section 143 of the Nigerian Constitution provides that the President or Vice President may be removed from office on impeachment for gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office. The Nigerian constitution unlike the US constitution that did not define what is high crime and misdemeanor went further to define gross misconduct as a grave violation or breach of the provisions of the Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion of the National Assembly to gross misconduct. Thus, the operative legal standard to apply to an impeachment of a sitting President is gross misconduct as a grave violation or breach of the provisions of the Constitution. Gross misconduct as defined by our constitution is abuses of power or challenges to the constitutional system. President Yar' Adua's conduct in the past 3 months is an assault on the constitutional foundation of our democracy. He has committed grave wrong against our system of government.
His actions to stay away and refusal to abide to his oath of office by transmitting a letter to the national assembly of his medical trip, in its very nature or consequences subversive to the fundamental or essential principle of our government and highly prejudicial to the public interest. And above all a violation of the Constitution and abuse of power. I hereby urge the national assembly, for the sake of national unity and the protection of our constitution, to start impeachment proceedings against President Umaru Yar' Adua.
Felix Ayanruoh Esq.Practices law in New York and The District of Columbia| Article source