15 July 2013

Nigeria: Group Plans Demonstrations Against President

A leading member of United Nigeria Group says the organization plans to ask the Senate and the House of Representatives on Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan.

"We are going to see both the senate president and the speaker of the House of Representatives and call on both of them to commence the process of impeaching the president," said Isa Tijjani, secretary general of the United Nigeria Group. "We have catalogued all the impeachable offenses and we are going to hand it over to them."

The United Nigeria group, an umbrella organization, is made up of civil society organizations, religious and student groups.

Tijjani says leaders at Tuesday's meeting will decide on a date for a nationwide protest to demand President Jonathan's resignation.

"This president has not lived up to expectation. He has not been able to uphold the oath of allegiance he swore to protect and defend the constitution of Nigeria," said Tijjani. "Even the very democratic system that brought him to power is being threatened by the very action of the presidency. So we cannot just fold our arms and see the hard earned democracy of Nigeria [become a] disaster."

Supporters of the president reject the criticism and resignation demands, saying Jonathan is not to blame for the violence often carried out by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, and other armed groups. They argue that impeaching the country's leader has no legal basis because the president has not violated the constitution. They also say the planned demonstrations could create confusion and chaos.

Tijjani says Nigerians do not feel safe despite of the state of emergency declared in parts of the country as well as the deployment of troops to combat Boko Haram.

"The issue of security has been politicized and Nigerians are living in palpable fear all over the country, [and] we don't think that is acceptable, not to mention the issue of corruption," said Tijjani.

Tijjani also said the government's fight against corruption was undermined after President Jonathan pardoned the former governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreiye Alamieyeisegha, as well as former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

Alamieyeisegha was convicted for embezzling state funds while he was Bayelsa governor. Bulama was prosecuted on corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

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