Bill to impeach president after 30 days without cabinet passes second reading

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A bill seeking to set a 30-day time frame for the president to appoint ministers upon assumption of office has passed second reading in the house of representatives.

The bill, which scaled first reading in December 2020, seeks to create a committee that will oversee the transition of power from an outgoing president to the president-elect.

Section 19(1) of the proposed bill stipulates that “the president shall on assumption of office, appoint ministers within 30 days from the date he took the oath of office.”

Section 19(2) of the bill provides that “the president shall constitute and appoint all boards of government agencies and parastatal that are due for constitution and appointment within two months from the date of his assumption of office.”

According to section 19(3), the president “shall be guilty of a misconduct as provided under section 143 (2) (b) of the Constitution” if he fails to comply with the provisions of the proposed bill.

That section specifically states how the president can be impeached when he is guilty of “gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office”.

Kpam Sokpo, lawmaker from Benue state and sponsor of the bill, said the bill will ensure smooth transition of power.

“This bill seeks to provide for the procedure and ceremony for transition and assumption of the office of the president, and vice-president-elect by the president-elect and vice-president-elect, and to facilitate the handover process by the outgoing president and vice-president of the federal republic of Nigeria,” Sokpo said.

Contributing to the debate on the bill, Toby Okechukwu, lawmaker from Enugu, cited the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari in constituting his cabinet, and said the proposed bill will “kill the mischief of discretion” and also save the country from unnecessary cost.

“This is a very important bill. What mischief does it intend to cure? It will kill the mischief of discretion. The transition period is a period when a country is vulnerable,” he said.

“It is the time for transition, not a time for the body language of anyone. In 2015, we lost about six months due to the fact that our cabinet was formed by the president. It happened again in 2019. The opportunity cost is huge. The same thing is happening in states.”

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