What It Will Take To Impeach Saraki
The National Assembly is currently gripped with fear of plans to have Senate President Bukola Saraki impeached.
The rumours of impeachment intensified on Tuesday morning when lawmakers arrived at the National Assembly complex to find the place locked down by men of the State Security Services (DSS).
Senators from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) quickly raised alarm that the siege was part of the plans to get Saraki removed at all cost.
The PDP senators also alleged that about 30 senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) met at a hotel in Abuja to perfect their plans to impeach the Senate President.
Since the defection of Saraki from the ruling APC to the PDP last week, the party and some of its senators loyal to President Buhari, have called on the Senate President to vacate the seat or be impeached.
Saraki’s current travails brought back the memory of a similar defection from the then ruling PDP to the then opposition APC before the 2015 general election.
Incidentally, the major players in both cases are the same.
Saraki and then House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal (now Sokoto State Governor) featured prominently as they led the 2015 defection from the PDP to APC, arguing that their interests were not well served.
Today, they have returned to the PDP, singing a similar tune.
The latest defection, as was the case in 2015, has again thrown up the argument whether the ruling party must always produce the heads of the legislative houses.
The lack of precedence on how to deal with the political future of a defecting politician, and the absence of a constitutional provision to that effect have now left the APC in a dilemma on how to confront the negative effect of Saraki’s defection to the PDP, with the crown of the Senate President safely ensconced on his head.
Critics of the grieving APC are quick to argue that history and the law are not on its side in this.
Tambuwal, who cross carpeted from PDP to APC in 2014 without vacating his seat, said the constitution does not recognise the election of Presiding and Principal Officers on the basis of party affiliation.
APC's Double Standard
The governor accused the governing party of double standard.
“When they talk about cross carpeting, I begin to wonder. When I cross carpeted the other time, did they complain?
''When I hear that some people are trying to break into the chambers of the Senate to steal the mace and install a pseudo President of the Senate I wonder whether they actually know the rules of our democratic engagement. It’s not a Gestapo.
"We are in democracy. And the constitution of this country is very clear that members of the Senate and the House of Representatives can choose from among themselves their own President of the Senate or Speaker (of House of Representatives) without leaning to any political party.
“It is a question of confidence of members of the chamber” Tambuwal said.
What options are before the APC
With the absence of a legal direction on this issue, the options before the APC are three:
First, the APC can approach the court for a definite pronouncement on this issue to serve as a guide in future occurrence.
The second is for the party to explore the constitutional provisions in Section 50(2) (c) of the Constitution, which provides for the removal of such a principal officer through a resolution by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the House.
The implication is that the APC will require the support of 73 senators out of the total 109 in the Senate to achieve such a resolution.
Currently, the party has 53 senators and would require the support of twenty other senators from the PDP, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and African Democratic Party (ADC)
The third option is for the APC to allow Saraki complete his term as Senate President under his new party and prevent a recurrence should it retain power at the centre after the 2019 general elections.
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