Christian leaders blast motion to impeach Nigeria president

Monday, April 24, 2000 | Tag Cloud Tags:

LAGOS, 24 April 2000 (Newsroom) – Religious and political leaders have soundly condemned the attempt by a controversial senator to launch impeachment proceedings against President Olusegun Obasanjo, a move they say is meant to embarrass the country’s first elected president in nearly two decades.

Sunday Mbang, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), described the impeachment motion filed last week by Senator Arthur Nzeribe as unwarranted and warned the National Assembly not to consider it. “Should the National Assembly members concentrate on impeachment, CAN may be forced to mobilize Christians and Muslims with like minds to storm Abuja (the capital city) to chase them out,” he told Newsroom.

Nzeribe filed an impeachment motion at the Senate on April 18, listing 15 allegations of gross misconduct that he said warrant the removal of the president. He accused Obasanjo of corruption, nepotism, “misapplication of public funds,” and fraud. The president’s office dismissed the allegations as frivolous. The Senate referred the impeachment motion to its Ethics, Privileges, and Public Relations Committee for investigation.

Since Obasanjo, who describes himself as a born-again Christian, took office on May 29, 1999, he has created commissions to root out corruption and to reconcile warring religious and ethnic factions.

Nzeribe, a Christian who once stated his intention of becoming a Muslim but did not, led the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), which succeeded in aborting the nation’s third republic seven years ago. The presidential election of June 12, 1993, which would have inaugurated the third republic, was annulled by former military President Ibrahim Babangida when ABN challenged the election in court.

Muslim leaders have remained largely silent on the impeachment motion, although former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar was quoted in The Guardian newspaper on Monday as saying that democracy has taken root in Nigeria and deserves the support of the populace. “I am sure this country will come out of the crisis more united,” he told The Guardian, Nigeria’s largest daily newspaper. Abubakar was the military head of state under whose administration elections were held last year and democracy was restored.

Mbang blamed Nigerians for electing people like Nzeribe to the Senate and House of Representatives. Politicians like Nzeribe, the CAN president said, have nothing to offer but anarchy. “I do not know what the likes of Nzeribe, who contributed to the problems that almost destroyed their country, are doing in the National Assembly. What kind of laws can somebody like Nzeribe, who do not believe in democracy, make in a democratic system?”

The chairman of the Alliance for Democracy, one of the country’s three political parties, expressed concern over what he described as a dangerous drama unfolding at the National Assembly to remove President Obasanjo.

The party supports both the federal government and the president, Yusuf Maman said, adding that “we cannot afford to stand by and watch it undermined.”

Nigeria’s Nobel Prize winner, Wole Soyinka, said Nzeribe should be ignored. “He has nothing to live for except attention, so don’t give it to him,” Soyinka told Newsroom.

While some analysts do not view the impeachment threat as serious, others fear it could be an indirect invitation to the military to take over. However, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi, chief of defense staff, said in a rare public statement last week that the military stands ready to defend democracy.

Copyright © 2000 Newsroom.
Used with permission.

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