By Akan Mkpong
What is an impeachable offence if I refuse to define one? What does the constitution say about impeachable offence? Shall the president be impeached for a likelihood or semblance of offence? To establish an impeachable offence, the supposed offence, like the Hembe’s and the Lawan’s cases, shall be seen to be an offence indeed by all and sundry. For example, in Section 188 of the 1999 constitution, the House of Representatives shall present the perceived offence to the senate president who will in turn, inform all the senators, and a resolution of the entire Legislature be communicated to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Now, when the CJN is duly informed, he/she shall set up a-seven-member panel of verifiers to ascertain the veracity of the offence. If the panel discountenances the allegation, it dies naturally. If the allegation is sustained which is unlikely, two-thirds of both chambers shall be required to actualize or effect impeachment. Therefore, if in a case that is sapped of substance like in the already flawed 100 percent budget implementation, one does not need a soothsayer to show that the exercise would be futile except there is a conspiracy or some hidden agenda. Common sense will require that if the Honourable members are discreet enough, they should have since sacked their own who danced naked in the public with bribery scandal.
The question resounds again and again: shall the President be impeached for every offence? Can non-implementation of the budget to the tune of 100 percent constitute an offence except someone seeks to be funny? If the President collected a bribe of $620,000 dollars, his impeachment would have come in a week’s time, gone and forgotten. If the President was fingered to have coquetted with Boko Haram the way Honourable Aliyu Ndume was, his coffin would have been moth eaten by now. If the President refused to appear before the House Committee that probed the subsidy scam like Mr. Lukman did, by now, his successor would have been executing state functions.
How rational does this muddled, mentally disturbing and hazy impeachment sound in the ears of well meaning Nigerians who voted these people into office? Would it not be proper or logical if the National Assembly reconsiders bringing the Naira back to its pre-devalued state? Somebody devalued the Naira and nobody is questioning him because the act was a lesser offence through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). The same person cannot be questioned for $12.5 billion oil windfall because he is bigger than the state, a sacred cow! There are those who must be probed and those who must not so be. Somebody sent the army to go and destroy innocent souls at Zaki-biam and Odi; but these settlements were not at war and no probes are visited.
The people who voted Uncle Jonathan are the same people who brought in the Legislators; and their demand is that subsidy scam be probed and not swept under the carpet as has been being the case especially when high net-worth individuals were involved. And, the President has obliged the electorate. So, because those indicted for prosecution are no small fries, the President must be impeached in consequence for his effrontery? This impeachment is not only unreasonable, ridiculous and preposterous but outrageous and outlandishly bizarre. The Legislature has boxed itself into motley. Which country ever impeached its President for the flimsy excuse of not implementing a budget to the fullest?
I know full well that heavens will not fall if the sons of the Peoples Democratic Party chieftains are prosecuted and jailed. But something must happen to stop Jonathan, even if Nigeria tumbles. I will not doubt if I see more bomb explosions. In fact, this is why the impeachment is not different from the demands of Boko Haram which wants southerners to leave the north; which says western education must be abandoned; and, that the President should either resign or vacate the seat of government. One thing is sure and it is that no matter what is offered to Boko Haram, it cannot stop its devilish skim and the populace is awash with this fact: Boko Harm is sponsored to unseat Jonathan!
In the same vein, even if Ghana-Must-Go exchanges hands in the House and in the Senate, the hardliners will settle for nothing but impeachment. I will not as others posit that the President was lame-ducked while the House members were reduced to bread and butter law makers in the face of Lawangate nemesis. No! Even if that were the case, the substance in the impeachment case is below the belt for a punch. On this count, the President stands exonerated of any wrong doing.
I did not want to comment on the impeachment saga in order to deny it the costly attention of reality which it was craving but for a strike by Boko Haram in a sensitive spot. In the high brow area of Maitama District of all places, residents were startled by deafening sounds like bomb blasts. But when the Inspector-General of Police was contacted, he said that the sound was as a result of explosives! Quarry explosives?
Buildings affected and partially damaged belong to the former Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO) to General Sani Abacha, General Lawrence Onoja (rtd), and that of the ex-Director General of the defunct National Security Organisation (NSO), Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi. The impact was great on other buildings and vehicles. The building of the Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, was not far from the scene. Personalities living within and around the vicinity require no mention as Maitama is the home of the nouveau-riche. The official residence of ambassadors and heads of missions as well as security personnel are located there. Maitama is not for common Nigerians except for the stewards who cannot be denied accommodation.
The question then is, why would an expert engineer take an explosive to a residential area to blast a supposed rock without first warning the residents as the case normally is? Is this not another white lie for Boko Haram’s daring-do? Why didn’t the blast take place long before the issues that now make the National Assembly to consider impeaching the President by fire or by force? The presence of foreigners and well to do Nigerians living there would have caused the builders to notify the dwellers of their intention if I must believe the “scoop”.
Furthermore, it is no more news that Chief Edwin Clarke has made Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Mohammedu Buhari to appear as co-sponsors and praise singers of the Boko Haram exploits for their inability to condemn the insurgents boldly and publicly. However, Babangida is warming up to go to court for redress against such insinuations and image denting. Besides, Pa Edwin’s comment has sparked no small controversies from interest groups in the north and the who is who from the enclave.
Therefore to rubbish his audacity, explosions must inch closer to reserved quarters!
How can I be sure that the sponsors of Boko Haram are not the commanders and brain behind the bombs nick-named explosives?
How can I expunge the Assembly members in their rash attempt to impeach the President from issues unrelated to subsidy scam prosecution? Many have premised the angst of the Assembly members to the slashing of their constituency project funds for Appropriation Act of 2012. The Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, insists that money released must match physical work done. For now, there is nothing to justify release of cash for constituency nonsense like Mr. Due Process to back up the releases. With the dagger of impeachment dangling, will the Minister budge? Our people say that no matter how a goat frowns its face in protest, such bravadoes cannot stop him from ending up in the pepper soup pot! So, who blinks first? It is either the impeachment be a sauce or the prosecution of scammers a harbinger for the expected break. Which break?