Ariyo Andrew Tobi & Olufemi Opeyemi Ajayi
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) identifies ‘gross misconduct’ in the performance of the functions of the office as the primary condition that may warrant the impeachment of elected members of the executive. Since the inception of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic in 1999, the legislative arm of government at both the federal and state levels have used the power of impeachment on the executive on many occasions. However, most of the impeachment cases have led to controversies regarding their propriety. This study probed the impeachment saga in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic with the view of ascertaining their effects on its fledgling democracy. This study utilised data sourced from secondary sources such as textbooks, journals, newspapers, television, and the internet. The study found that the legislature has grossly abused the power of impeachment to promote selfish interests without adhering to the due process of law. It identified, among others, the crisis of confidence between the executive and members of the legislature, the battle for supremacy between the federal and state executives, the crisis between the executive and godfathers mostly at the state level, the intrigue of opposition political parties and the succession crisis as the main reasons for impeachment in Nigeria. Its effects included political violence, bickering among members of the legislature, rising cases of trumped-up charges against political office holders, and leadership crises. The study recommended that apart from the legislature operating strictly by the provisions of the constitution, what constitute “gross misconduct” should be explicitly stated in the constitution. Similarly, there is a need for a judicial review of the impeachment process.
Keywords: democracy, Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, gross misconduct, impeachment, legislature