IMPEACHMENT OF GOVERNORS AND DEPUTY GOVERNORS: WHAT JURISTS SAY

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Karibi-Whyte, JSC , (as he then was):

[I]f (the) argument is accepted, what amounts to gross misconduct will be subjective, varying in its meaning with the composition, moods, and eccentricities of the Assembly. This cannot be the true legal position….The determination whether there is gross misconduct within the meaning of the section is objective. But the question whether the particular misconduct is gross or not is subjective… it should not be left to the whims of the National or State Assembly to characterize conduct which is not a grave violation of the Constitution as gross misconduct merely because they in their subjective opinion regard it as such.

The Constitution is specific as to what is gross misconduct in terms of violations or breach of the Constitution…[I]t must not merely be a violation of the Constitution or breach of it: it must be sufficiently gross to threaten the peace, order and good government.’

Impeachment of Public Officers Under the 1999 Constitution (Paper delivered at NBA Conference, 2001, Pp13-14)

 2. Niki Tobi, JSC (of blessed memory)

“The word “gross” in the subsection …. means generally in the context atrocious, colossal, deplorable, disgusting, dreadful, enormous, gigantic, grave, heinous, outrageous, odious and shocking. All these words express some extreme negative conduct.

Therefore a misconduct which is the opposite of the above cannot constitute gross misconduct. Whether misconduct is gross
or not will depend on the matter as exposed by the facts. It cannot be determined in vacuo or in a vacuum but in relation to the fact of the case and the law policing the facts…It is not a lawful or legitimate exercise of the
constitutional function in section 188 for a House of Assembly to remove a Governor or Deputy Governor to achieve a political purpose or one of organized vendetta clearly outside gross misconduct under the section.

Section 188 cannot be invoked merely because the House does not like the face or look of the Governor or Deputy Governor in a particular moment….section 188 is a very strong political weapon at the disposal of the House which must be used only in appropriate cases of serious wrong doing on the part of the Governor or Deputy Governor, which is tantamount to gross misconduct within the meaning of subsection (11).

Section 188 is not a weapon available to the Legislature, to police a Governor or Deputy Governor in every wrong doing. A Governor or Deputy Governor, as a human being, cannot always be right and he cannot claim to be right always. That explains why section 188 talks about gross misconduct. Accordingly, where misconduct is not gross, the section 188 weapon of removal is not available to the House of Assembly.”

Inakoju & v. Ors v. Adeleke & Ors. (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt. 427 at 586 – 588

  1. Musdapher, JSC

‘For the articles of impeachment to be relevant, the misconduct must be gross. Gross here means glaringly noticeable because of
obvious inexcusable badness, or objectionableness or a conduct in breach of the Constitution. Accordingly, it is not every
misconduct that will attract impeachment.

Although, it appears that the legislature has the discretionary power to determine
what amounts to “gross misconduct”, it is clear supposed to be apparent to all and sundry that the misconduct is clearly and
immediatelyapparent,’

Inakoju & v. Ors v. Adeleke & Ors. (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt. 427 at 669

Quoted from Yemi Mohammed Esq:

The Basic Constitutional Provisions of Impeachmènt

(Unpublished work).




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