Nasarawa CJ under pressure to disband impeachment panel
Desperate to impeach Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, lawmakers sat yesterday outside Lafia, the state capital, with a mace allegedly procured from the National Assembly.
The Assembly held the session against the advice of President Goodluck Jonathan that the lawmakers should halt the impeachment.
At the curious sitting, members of the Assembly asked the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to disband the seven-man investigative panel looking into the allegations against the governor.
The members of the panel, inaugurated last Friday, are Yusuf Shehu Usman (chairman), Mohammed Sabo Keana, Reverend Joel Galadima, Alhaji Abdu Usman, Samuel Chaku, Mohammed Sani Usman and Pastor Daniel Chaga.
The Assembly, The Nation learnt was uncomfortable with the composition of the pane, which the Chief Judge set up in line with Section 188(5) of the 1999 Constitution.
The section states: “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.”
In spite of the fact that the panel is made up of non-partisan members, the dissatisfied lawmakers relocated to Karu Local Government Area, near their new base in Abuja, to sit.
The lawmakers asked the Chief Judge to disband the seven-man probe panel which they alleged was “tilted in favour” of the embattled governor.
A source said: “They rejected the composition of the panel by claiming that it would not be able to look into the allegations against the governor without bias.
“They have asked for the reconstitution of the investigative panel by the Chief Judge who had insisted on substantial compliance with the law.
“They wanted the CJ to raise a panel made up of only PDP members or those who have an axe to grind with the governor. But the Chief Judge appointed panel members with unquestionable integrity.”
According to the source, the game plan of the lawmakers is to create a stalemate which will not allow the panel to sit for three months as required by Section 188(7) (b) of the 1999 Constitution. “They want impeachment by ambush because they are afraid of the outcome of the panel”, he said, adding:
“The idea behind yesterday’s sitting was to create an impression that the Assembly ordered the Chief Judge to disband the panel and recall the report on expiry of the constitutional period allowed for the panel and go ahead with the impeachment.
“They are aware that the impeachment process ends constitutionally if the panel clears the governor of any wrongdoing on the 16 allegations of misconduct levelled against him.”
It was gathered that some Abuja-based PDP leaders were behind the pressure on the lawmakers to go ahead with the impeachment.
But it was not immediately ascertained on how the lawmakers procured the mace to sit in Karu.
A highly-placed source said: “Some top members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly provided the logistics and the venue at the neighbouring Karu Local Government Area that was used during the sitting.
Al-Makura’s spokesman Abdulhamid Kwarra said: “I want to tell you that these people are desperate to remove the governor. The mace that was used today is not that of the State Assembly but the National Assembly.”
“Members of the Assembly have stopped using the President’s name but are now dropping the names of the Senate President and other members of the National Assembly from Northcentral Zone.”
But the governor’s Special Adviser (Special Duties) Mohammed Abdullahi, said: “ I doubt whether the Senate President will condescend so low to support the subversion of the Nigerian Constitution…If truly he does, it’s unfortunate!”
Armed boys yesterday invade the Nasarawa State House of Assembly complex in Lafia and beat some of the lawmakers.
The youths laid a siege around the complex and attacked the members, who they thought came around in connection with the impeachment move against Governor Al-Makura.
The protesters demanded the immediate suspension of all impeachment proceedings.
People who work in the building were barred from the Assembly Complex.
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