By Olufemi Atoyebi
Three Senior Advocates of Nigeria and a former presidential spokesperson, Dr Doyin Okupe, have advised the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to follow due process in its attempt to remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Okupe and the senior lawyers, Professor Fidelis Oditah (SAN), Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) and Roland Otaru (SAN), gave the advice in separate interviews with our correspondents on Monday.
Okupe said, “The APC should not be too desperate to remove Saraki. The party should follow due process. The leadership of the APC should at least mobilise up to 73 senators before embarking on such an action.”
Gadzama noted that the APC had argued that the required majority to carry out Saraki’s impeachment should be calculated from sitting members and not the entire Senate.
“With respect to proponents of this school of thought, they have missed the point because the language used in the constitution is explicit. It does not refer to a two-thirds majority of a quorum but of all the members elected to that chamber.
“For the avoidance of doubt, interested parties can approach the court for a more definite interpretation of the section.”
Otaru in his submission said, “Under section 50 (2)(c) of the 1999 constitution, the President or Deputy President of the Senate can only be removed from office by a resolution of the Senate through the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.
“This provision is unambiguous to the extent that it means the two-thirds majority of all the members of the Senate and not just a fraction of the Senate.”
Oditah, supported his arguments by citing cases of impeached presiding officers of the Senate to drive home his point.
He said, “In previous occasions, Senate presidents were impeached and the records are there for everyone to crosscheck.
“In the case of (Evan) Enwerem, about 90 members voted against him, while about 80 voted against (Chuba) Okadigbo. Trying to remove Saraki with less than 73 senators could be an invitation to anarchy.”
Meanwhile, the South-West caucus of the Accord Party on Tuesday in Ibadan rejected Dr Doyin Okupe as its zonal leader, citing anti-party activity as reason.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the caucus meeting, the group said that although it had no power to remove Okupe, a recommendation to the effect would be made to the national headquarters.
The communiqué reads, “Okupe should, henceforth, stop parading himself as the South-West leader of our party. That the South-West caucus of the party views the meeting held in Iperu with Okupe as of no effect, hence it is null and void.
“The zone hereby declared that its members who attended the meeting have no power to do so on behalf of the party, while action is going on to identify the errant members with a view to sanctioning them. The Accord South-West is one and indivisible under the leadership of Dokun Babatunde as the National Vice Chairman and all other national officers from the zone.”