House gives reasons for Obasanjo impeachment threat

Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Thursday released a list of 17 charges that it said formed the basis for moves to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Most of the charges of breach of the constitution, released at a news conference by Farouk Lawan, chairman of the House Committee on Information, revolve around claims of non-implementation of budgets in the past three years, as contained in the appropriation laws.

The House of Representatives said it would also be taking Obasanjo to task over internal military operations he authorised at Odi, in the southern oil region, in 1999, and Zaki Biam, in central Nigeria, in 2001, during which hundreds of civilians were killed by rampaging troops.

Obasanjo had failed to obtain the consent of the legislature before ordering such military operations, as is required under the constitution, the House said.

Members of the House representing the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has a comfortable majority in both chambers of parliament, said they have forwarded details of the alleged breaches of the constitution to the party leadership, and that impeachment proceedings would begin if a response was not received within 10 days.

The House of Representatives had, on 13 August, passed a motion asking Obasanjo to resign within 14 days or face impeachment.

After the ultimatum expired, the PDP-controlled Senate gave its backing to the lower house of parliament, further deepening a crisis that has divided the ruling party and raised fears about the survival of democracy in Nigeria.

Minister of Information Jerry Gana told reporters on Thursday that Obasanjo had indicated his readiness to give "a full and comprehensive response to the charges".