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n Malawi Law Journal - Judicial review of the impeachment procedure in Nigeria

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Abstract

Nigeria has a presidential system of government with the President and the Vice-President heading the government at the Federal level while Governors and Deputy Governors head their respective States Governments. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides that no civil or criminal proceedings may be brought against these chief executives while in office. The only constitutional means through which these executive office holders can be checked, where they are found guilty of gross misconduct, is impeachment. Under the Constitution, the exercise of the power of impeachment is vested in the legislature. Recently, impeachment power has been exercised clandestinely with total disregard of constitutional provisions. Right from the first impeachment proceedings in Balarabe Musa's case in 1981, the attitude of the courts was that of 'non-interference.' The recent decisions of the Supreme Court in the Inakoju and Dariye cases constitute a departure from that attitude. This article reviews those cases and asserts that the National Assembly or a State House of Assembly has no power to impeach the executive other than in strict compliance with the procedure stipulated by the Constitution. The article further posits that impeachment proceedings epitomise the checks and balances among the tripartite organs of government in Nigeria. While the legislative power of impeachment constitutes a check on the executive, judicial review equally constitutes a check on the excesses of the legislature. The article evaluates the new judicial approach giving a holistic interpretation to the constitutional provisions on impeachment.

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/content/mlawj/3/2/EJC76223
2009-01-01
2016-12-03
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