Nasarawa: CJ insists on due process
Moves by Nasarawa State lawmakers to impeach Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura appeared yesterday to have suffered a major setback, with the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, insisting on due process. The CJ is, by law, to set up a seven-man panel to investigate the governor.
The lawmakers are mounting pressure on Justice Dikko through emissaries, including some bigwigs in the state, to raise a “biased” panel.
But the CJ is said to have been avoiding being dragged into politics.
Also, it was learnt that some of the lawmakers have been promised the state’s monthly allocation of N3bilion if they could remove Al-Makura.
Deputy Governor Dameshi B. Luka has been fingered in the plot.
Justice Dikko is sticking to due process – in line with Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution.
Besides, he would not be dragged into the “murky waters of politics”.
It was also learnt that the CJ is adamant on “substantial compliance with the law” because about three months ago, some of the lawmakers wrote a petition against him which they sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC) .
In the petition, they allegedly faulted the hearing of some matters relating to the conduct of local government elections in the state.
A highly-placed source said: “There is pressure on the Chief Judge to constitute a panel to probe Governor Al-Makura, but unlike what happened in Adamawa State, the Justice Dikko is strictly applying the law.
“He is insisting on substantial compliance with the 1999 Constitution and the law on service of impeachment notice and constitution of a seven-man investigative panel.
“The lawmakers have been trying to sway the CJ to their side. They have also tried to dictate to the CJ who should serve on the investigative panel.
“For instance, they have short-listed some well-known ‘political enemies’ of the governor as members of the investigative panel to make Al-Makura’s trial a fait accompli.”
Some of the likely members of the panel are a former deputy governor, some permanent secretaries retired by Al-Makura and a former Head of a state parastatal who had an axe to grind with the governor.
Section 188(5) of the 1999 says: “Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chief Judge of the state shall at the request of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, appoint a panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provided in this section.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “I think the lawmakers are jittery about the non-partisan attitude of the Chief Judge. Some of them have had cause to report the CJ to the NJC for entertaining some applications relating to the conduct of local government elections.
“The CJ is a man of integrity and he is tough. He also cannot be intimidated by anybody. The lawmakers have found him a judge that cannot be used.”
There were indications yesterday that some of the Assembly members were encouraged to go into the impeachment plot because of alleged promise of the state’s monthly allocation of N3billion as compensation.
A top source said: “One of the brains behind the impeachment plot allegedly told some of the lawmakers that once Al-Makura is out, the next monthly allocation of N3billion meant for the state will be allocated to them to share.
“This is the bait being offered some of the lawmakers. It is, however, impracticable to allocate the entire funds from the Federation Account to the state in one month to the lawmakers. Yet, some of the lawmakers believe in the mouth-watering offer.”
Some of the lawmakers may have quit the plot because of “intervention” of some traditional rulers and opinion leaders, it was learnt.
Another source said: “Some of the lawmakers have discovered that the impeachment process is unpopular. They have decided to accept the mediation of some traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the state.”
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