Court Orders N’Assembly to Commence Buhari’s Impeachment

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  •  I am not aware of it, says Mohammed
  •  Shehu: I have not been briefed about the development

Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

Justice Maurine Onyetenu of the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo Wednesday ordered the National Assembly to immediately commence the process for the impeachment of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The judge gave the order following a suit filed by two Nigerians, Kanmi Ajibola, a lawyer, and Sulaiman Adeniyi, a human rights activist, urging the court to compel the National Assembly to impeach the president.

The litigants had three months ago written to the Senate and the House of Representatives, seeking the impeachment of the president, citing alleged breaches of the constitution, and threatened to go to court if the legislature refused their request.

But when the lawmakers refused, they headed to court and filed a suit, asking for an order of mandamus to compel both the Senate and the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings against Buhari.

The presidency and the federal government had measured responses to the development Wednesday as they said they were unaware of it.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, told THISDAY Wednesday night that he had not been briefed on the matter.

The presidential spokesman, however, promised to get the details of the court ruling so that he would comment from the point of knowledge.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also told journalists after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that he had no information on it.

In the suit filed on June 19, 2018, the litigants hinged their arguments on four grounds.

In the motion ex-parte, they claimed that in flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution, Buhari contested the election, won and was sworn in as the president on May 29, 2015 without possessing the basic constitutional requirement, which would have made him qualified for the contest of the election.

They further alleged that the president, in flagrant violation of Section 137 (1) (j) of the 1999 Constitution, presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the purpose of the 2015 presidential election that brought him to the office of the president.

“In the light of the 4th respondent’s placement to continue in the office as the president, he has no certificate and basic requirement upon which this placement to continue in the office can be placed,” they said.

Besides, they accused the president of treating the orders of the court with a great disdain and abusing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at will, with particular reference to non-compliance with the federal character principle as contained in Section 14 of the Constitution.

Ajibola and Adeniyi told the court that Buhari had failed to keep to his oath of office, which mandates him to secure the lives and property of the citizens, citing the ceaseless killings by suspected herdsmen as evidence of the claim.

They accused the president of breaching Sections 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution by spending about $496 million on the purchase of Tucano Jets without the approval of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as required by the law.

Contending that the breaches of the constitution amounted to gross misconduct, they asked the court to compel both chambers of the National Assembly to activate Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution, which empowers them to impeach the president.

“The 1st to 3rd respondents have closed their eyes to the gross misconduct of the 4th respondent,” they told the court, adding that as applicants in the matter, they had the right and duty to compel the 1st and 3rd respondents to perform their statutory duty of impeachment against the 4th respondent, having breached the Constitution.

Justice Onyetenu in her ruling granted the application and ordered the National Assembly to commence the impeachment of the president.

Further hearing in the matter has been fixed to October 30, 2018.