Nyako’s Impeachment: What Nigerian law states

Former Governor Murtala Nyako

A few minutes before Tuesday’s impeachment, the Adamawa Deputy Governor’s resignation letter was read and approved by the Assembly.

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Eighteen of the 25 members (72 per cent, higher than constitutionally required 66 per cent) of the Adamawa State House of Assembly voted on Tuesday to remove Governor Murtala Nyako from office.

The lawmakers removed the governor after considering the report of a seven-member panel set up by the state’s former Acting Chief Judge, Ambrose Mammadi.

The panel, after sitting for less than a week and receiving only the House of Assembly as witness – the governor and his deputy boycotted the panel – submitted its report to the Assembly on Monday.

Mr. Nyako was already challenging the impeachment process in court saying among others, that he was not properly served with the panel’s invitation summons.

A few minutes before Tuesday’s impeachment, the Adamawa Deputy Governor’s resignation letter was read and approved by the Assembly.

In removing Mr. Nyako from office, the Adamawa lawmakers acted on Section 188 of the Nigerian constitution.

The section is reproduced below.

With Mr. Nyako’s removal, and his deputy’s resignation, Section 191, subsection 2, provides that the Speaker of the Assembly be sworn-in as acting governor for a maximum period of three months, during which a new governor would be elected in the state.

The new governor will, however, only complete Mr. Nyako’s tenure and not start afresh according to that section which is also reproduced below. He/she would also appoint a new deputy governor during that period.

The relevant sections of the constitution:

“188. (1) The Governor or Deputy Governor of a state 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 House of Assembly.

(b) stating that the holder of such office is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.

the speaker of the House of Assembly shall, within seven days of the receipt of the notice, cause a copy of the notice to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the House of 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 House of Assembly.

(3) Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the speaker of the House of Assembly (whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice-, the House of Assembly shall resolve by motion, without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.

(4) A motion of the House of Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly.

(5) Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chief judge of the State shall at the request of the speaker of the House of Assembly, appoint a Panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provided in this section.

(6) The holder of an office whose conduct is being investigated under this section shall have the right to defend himself in person or be represented before the panel by a legal practitioner of his own choice.

(7) A Panel appointed under this section shall –

(a) have such powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the House of Assembly; and

(b) within three months of its appointment, report its findings to the House of Assembly.

(8) Where the Panel reports to the House of Assembly that the allegation has not been proved, no further proceedings shall be taken in respect of the matter.

(9) Where the report of the Panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within fourteen days of the receipt of the report, the house of Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of the House of Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the Panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report.

(10) No proceedings or determination of the Panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.

(11) In this section –

“gross misconduct” means a grave violation or breach of the provisions of this Constitution or a misconduct of such nature as amounts in the opinion in the House of Assembly to gross misconduct.

191. (1) The Deputy Governor of a State shall hold the office of Governor of the State if the office of Governor becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal of the governor from office for any other reason in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this constitution.

(2) Where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) of this section during a period when the office of Deputy Governor of the State is also vacant, the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the State shall hold the office of Governor of the State for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new Governor of the State who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office.

(3) Where the office of the Deputy Governor becomes vacant –

(a) by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or removal in accordance with section 188 or 189 of this Constitution;

(b) by his assumption of the office of Governor of a State in accordance with subsection (1) of this section; or

(c) for any other reason, the Governor shall nominate and with the approval of the House of Assembly of the State, appoint a new Deputy Governor.”


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