Journal of Social Sciences

Frequency, Substance and Procedural Shortcomings of State Level Impeachment Campaigns in an Emerging Federal Democracy

Ibraheem Oladipo Muheeb

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2016.117.128

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 12, Issue 2

Pages 117-128


Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution encompasses separation of powers and checks and balances. It enjoins institutional autonomy in specific spheres, and systemic mutual inter-dependence of the legislature, executive and judiciary. The legislature has unfettered right to be self-regulatory including intra-institutional changes in leadership. Such right must be exercised responsibly and in conformity with the Constitution. Erring executive official could be impeached by the legislature in collaboration with the judiciary exclusively for acts and omissions amounting to gross misconduct. The scanty details without clearly defined grounds for impeachment in the constitution put the executive at the mercy of the legislature, which exercises exclusive discretion on what constitute “gross misconduct”. Impeachment as a process that involves setting aside the will of the electorate is too crucial a legislative matter of course, to be undertaken arbitrarily. In Nigeria’s conflictual distributive and transactional Fourth Republic politics (1999-2015), pliable and reckless legislatures have launched intra and inter-institutional impeachment campaigns on frivolous grounds. Controversial impeachments have further enhanced the prominence of legislatures. The preponderance of externally induced leadership tussle questions legislatures’ capacity to be self-regulatory amidst other vices. Executives’ initial autocratic tendencies vis-à-vis denial of legislatures’ right of scrutiny is waning with increasing consciousness of the consequences of recourse to impeachment among other gains. This paper highlights the frequency, politics, substance and procedural shortcomings of impeachment campaigns. Theory of separation of powers suffices. Given its potential in political and power contestations, impeachment would continue to feature as bargaining chip as the system of rule progresses.


© 2016 Ibraheem Oladipo Muheeb. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.