The senators pushing for the removal of President Goodluck Jonathan have set December 16 as the date to set their plan rolling.
The arrowhead of the Jonathan-Must-Go in the Senate, Senator Alkali Jajere, said on Tuesday in Abuja that the aggrieved senators would table a motion for the impeachment of the President before the Senate on the said date.
The Senate, currently on break to allow members to participate in their respective political parties’ congresses, will resume on December 16.
Some of the anti-Jonathan senators said the leadership of the upper chamber had allowed the long break in order to frustrate the impeachment move but that they were adamant “in order to save the country’s democracy.”
Jajere, who spoke with journalists outside the Senate chambers on Tuesday, said two more senators had indicated interest to sign the impeachment motion immediately after plenary thereby increasing the number of signatories to 65.
He said, “As of today, the required signatures to initiate the impeachment process had been obtained. The Senate has adjourned to December 16, so by that date the impeachment motion will be presented on the floor of the Senate.
“As of last week, 63 of us had signed up for the impeachment; my signature was the fourth but I can confirm to you that we have 63 signatures but after the session today two people had called and told me that they want to sign.
“One of them is an All Progressives Congress senator who was away doing campaign because he is contesting the governorship election of his state. The other person is a Peoples Democratic Party senator.
“Before the end of today I can assure you that the list will swell up to 70. It is on the impeachment day that we need two-thirds of the members to carry out the exercise but we need only one-third, which we already have, to initiate the process. It is just a matter of one day sitting. We will just push it before the two chambers.”
Jajere said he signed the impeachment motion because of his conviction that there were impeachable offences against Jonathan and that the process started early in the year but was truncated.
The senator, who said he practised journalism for 27 years, insisted that the constitutional breaches committed by the President were enough grounds to impeach him.
He said, “In 2011, this Senate approved N240bn as subsidy fund but the same government spent N1.7trn, which is a clear breach of the constitution and clear breach of the Appropriation Act.
“The business of government is to curtail excesses but this government has shown that it is incurably deficient in handling the situations in this country. That government cannot say it wants to continue.
“The President should have even resigned without waiting for him to be impeached. The duty of the legislature is to act as a check and balance because it is the most important symbol of democracy.
“If you don’t have the legislature, you don’t have democracy because every other arm of government exists even when there is no democracy. It is only the legislature that makes a democracy a government.
“The impeachment issue is not just coming now. It is a process that started early in the year but there was a hiccup. But today, there are issues that have triggered the National Assembly to do what it should do.”
He added that the process of impeachment had started in earnest and expressed confidence that it could be concluded before the general elections next year.
“The judiciary will form a committee through the Chief Judge of Nigeria, the National Assembly will carry out the verification of the committee and conclude the remaining process. The National Assembly will soon conclude our own side and submit the notice to the judiciary,” he said.
Another senator from the South-West, who pleaded anonymity, also told one of our correspondents that the impeachment process had started and that his pro-impeachment colleagues would initiate the process on resumption from the current adjournment.
He also alleged that the leadership of the National Assembly deliberately adjourned for two weeks in order to slow down the process, which he said would have started this week.
“To be frank, this impeachment process is real. We have agreed to move it formally on resumption. Why should the Senate leadership adjourn for two weeks? They want to frustrate our moves but they can’t succeed.
“If we are going to adjourn at all, it should be for a week because the primaries of all political parties would end by next week Sunday. Why can’t we resume on Tuesday next week?
“They (senate leadership) are playing games with us. By the time we resume on December 16, they will adjourn for another three weeks for Christmas and New Year. They know that serious political activities would start on resumption in January.”
However, Senators Ayogu Eze, (PDP Enugu) and Senator Zakari Yau (PDP, Zamfara) have said they will resist the attempt by the pro-impeachment senators to table the notice on the floor of the Senate.
Eze in an interview said, “There is no impeachment motion in the Senate, it is in the imagination of those who are writing about it and we challenge anybody who thinks that he can impeach the President to meet us on the floor.
“We challenge anybody who is interested and who thinks he has the vote to impeach the President, to meet us on the floor. We don’t want any distraction at this period when the country is going through elections and we have serious challenges.
“ If it is a joke, it is a joke carried too far. I have been very present in the chamber since I got here in 2007 if anything is happening in that chamber I will know but I can tell you, there is nothing like that.”
Also, Yau described the impeachment move as a rumour and that the process was not achievable based on the fact that Nigeria is planning for a general election next year.
“I don’t think that there is anything like impeachment in the Senate. There could be something like that in the House of Representatives but I am not aware of such a development in the Senate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the APC members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday disowned a list purported to be the names of lawmakers pushing to impeach President Jonathan.
The APC Caucus in the House described the list as “fake”.
The caucus disowned the list barely 72 hours after the PDP Caucus also called the list “a scam.”
The House Minority Leader and Leader of the APC caucus, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, claimed in a statement in Abuja that none of his members was a “party to the fake impeachment list.”
By implication, both the majority PDP and the main opposition APC have disowned the list.
The development leaves the question on the whereabouts of the authentic impeachment list or whether there is any list in existence unanswered.
Gbajabiamila merely said that the authentic list would be published in “due course.”
“The general public is hereby advised to disregard a fake impeachment list published by some online publicists for obvious sinister intentions,” part of his statement read.
When he was asked the number of lawmakers on the authentic list, he replied that the list was not in his possession.
“I don’t have the list with me; but we will make it available soon,” he said.
APC members began collecting signatures to impeach Jonathan after the November 20 invasion of the National Assembly by riot policemen and hooded State Security Service operatives.
About 113 angry members reportedly signed the list that day, with the figure rising to about 131 a week later.
However, the promoters of the impeachment kept the list close to their chest, refusing to make the names public.
In the middle of last week, a list appeared on some online sites, purporting to be the names of those planning to remove Jonathan.
But, doubts were raised over the authenticity of the list after it was discovered to contain the names of the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola; and the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
The two principal officers are members of the PDP and considered to be among the President’s key loyalists in the House.
When contacted, Ogor had described the list as a scam.
He stated, “This is a clear case of scam. This is cheap blackmail by people who have lost direction.
“How you do say Mulikat (Akande-Adeola) and Leo Ogor are on the list to impeach Jonathan?
“How can the President’s henchmen be the ones to impeach him again?”
When his views were sought, the House spokesman, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, on Tuesday confirmed that there was indeed a move by some members to impeach Jonathan.
However, he declined to comment on the names of the members or their number. – Punch.