The Peoples Democratic Party Caucus at the House of Representatives on Sunday cautioned against initiating any impeachment proceedings to remove President Muhammadu Buhari from office despite the festering crisis between the Executive and the Legislature, particularly the Senate.
Relations between Buhari and the Senate have degenerated in the past months over the criminal charges levelled against the latter’s presiding officers.
It started with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who was arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false declaration of assets.
While the trial before the CCT had yet to be dispensed with, a separate case of the alleged forgery of the Senate’s rules book was slammed on Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
Last week at its closed-door session, there were reports that some senators actually called for the commencement of impeachment proceedings against the President in a bid to assert the independence of the legislature.
The Senate has yet to formally deny the alleged impeachment call.
But, the House caucus advised caution on Sunday, saying that in spite of the feud, moving to impeach the President was “hasty.”
It noted that in parliamentary practice, impeachment was used as a last resort after all other avenues for dialogue must have been exhausted.
The Leader of the caucus, Mr. Leo Ogor, who spoke with The PUNCH in Abuja, explained that an impeachment process would be difficult to reverse, “looking (at it) that it must be followed through.”
Ogor, who is also the Minority Leader of the House, added, “That is why as a legislature, we always say impeachment should be the last option.
“It can only come up after all other avenues for dialogue have been exhausted. So, let the senators be cautious in their approach.
“Impeachment has its own negative consequences, like creating distractions, since the President will have to be thinking of how to resolve it.
“While this is going on, governance suffers.”
However, he advised Buhari to adjust his style of leadership, which Ogor described as “too stiff” for democracy.
“Mr. President has yet to fully imbibe democratic principles. He is trying to adapt.
“His reaction is understandable, looking at the background he came from.
“But, he must learn and adjust faster than he is doing right now,” he added.
The House of Representatives, in solidarity with the Senate, last month passed a resolution opposing the prosecution of Saraki and Ekweremadu.
The House noted that the amendment of the Senate’s rules book was an “internal affair of the Senate,” which it should be allowed to carry out as an independent arm of government without external interference.
On Tuesday last week, the House also passed a controversial bill to amend the immunity clause in the 1999 Constitution for second reading.
The timing of the bill raised eyebrows as many observers interpreted it as a move to shield Saraki from prosecution.
But the House, through its Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, quickly denied that either Saraki or the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, would be the beneficiary of the law when passed.
Namdas had clarified, “The amendment was not proposed with any hidden agenda. It is not about immunity for Saraki or Dogara; no.
“We are thinking of how to build this institution, which is the mainstay of democracy. We are thinking of good governance where the presiding officers can do their work without distractions.
“In any case, an amendment does not mean that the bill has been passed or that we have granted immunity to the presiding officers. Not all members even agree with the bill.
“It was referred to the Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review for debate. The bill will be analysed there before a report is sent to the whole House.
“When it returns to the House, members will still argue it, whether to adopt it or reject it.
“This thing takes time and it doesn’t just happen the way people are beginning to imagine.”