Nasarawa impeachment: Tight security as probe panel begins sitting




We won’t accept committee’s report, lawmakers vow

There was a heavy presence of armed security men in parts of Lafia on Thursday as the panel raised by Nasarawa State Chief Judge Suleiman Umaru Dikko to investigate allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Governor Tanko Al-Makura began sitting.

The sitting, which held behind closed doors at the conference hall of the state Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, signposted the rejection of the request by the state House of Assembly for a new panel to be constituted by Dikko.

The Chairman of the assembly’s Information and Security Committee, Bala Ibaku, had told one of our correspondents on Monday, that his colleagues wanted a new panel.

“We had an emergency sitting to deliberate on the seven-man panel that was set up by the state Chief Judge, Justice Umaru Dikko, on Friday, last week. We asked him to dissolve the seven-man panel because the members of the panel are All Progressives Congress members that hold various political positions in the state,” Ibaku had said.

Journalists were barred from entering the venue of the panel’s sitting on Thursday by armed policemen and soldiers.

Heavily armed security agents were also at the Government House, UAC Junction and Makurdi Road to avoid a breakdown of law and order.

The APC has however lampooned the Peoples Democratic Party lawmakers in the state assembly for demanding the dissolution of the seven- man probe panel.

It described the request by the lawmakers who are mostly PDP members as unreasonable, unconstitutional and way too late.

The party’s position was contained in a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

The APC said the lawmakers’ demand showed that they either had a very poor understanding of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution or were blinded by their desperation to impeach the governor.

It said apart from boxing themselves into a tight corner, the lawmakers had resorted to holding an illegal sitting with a fake mace.

The party noted that the demand by the assembly members for the dissolution of the panel was in itself illegal and unconstitutional.

The statement partly read, ‘’Section 188 (5) of the Constitution is clear: ‘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.

“It is important to point out to the desperate lawmakers that the key words in that section is that the chief judge must appoint persons who in his opinion (emphasis ours) are of unquestionable integrity.

“At this juncture, it is neither the opinion of the speaker nor that of the legislators that counts; it is the opinion of the chief judge.

“Therefore, neither the speaker, the lawmakers nor the chief judge, can dissolve the panel at this stage and none of them can stop the impeachment process.

“Once the chief judge has appointed the panel under section 188 (5), he becomes ‘functus officio’, that is he has no further powers on the matter. This is the situation of things at present and the lawmakers can only await the report of the panel.”

The APC said it was however not surprised by the unwarranted and illegal call for the dissolution of the panel “because that call falls within the realm of the runaway impunity for which the PDP and the Goodluck Jonathan administration have become infamous.”

Also on Thursday, Al-Makura’s legal team described as unconstitutional, the call for the dissolution of the probe panel by the assembly.

The lead counsel for the governor, Chief Udechukwu Udechukwu (SAN), said that the chief judge lacked the power to disband the panel without first obtaining a court order.

According to Udechukwu, the procedure for removing a governor is strictly governed by Section 188 (1) to (11) of the constitution[eap_ad_2]

The SAN, who is leading other lawyers – Mrs. Olufunke Aboyade (SAN) and Ernest Ojukwu – added that in line with Section 287 (1), (2) or (3) of the 1999 Constitution, the chief judge lacked the power to dissolve any panel after setting it up.

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