Efforts by the Nasarawa State House of Assembly to impeach Governor Umaru Tanko Almakura took a comic twist yesterday as the lawmakers or any party representing them failed to show up at the inaugural public sitting of the investigative panel.
This development prompted the lead counsel to the governor, Chief U. N Udechukwu, to urge the panel to exercise their mandate as contained in the guidelines on the panel’s procedure (Section 7c) by dismissing the case if the lawmakers fail to show up to present their allegations of breach of constitution and gross misconduct against Governor Al-Makura.
Earlier, the secretary of the panel, Mr. Mohammed Michika, informed the panel chairman, Mr. Yusuf Usman, that although notice of appearance was served on the clerk of the Assembly, the notice had not been endorsed even though collected.
Consequently, Mr. Usman directed the secretary to serve the notice on the notice board and gate of the state Assembly directing them to appear in person or through a representation before the panel which reconvenes today at 9am in the conference hall of the state Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, and that if they fail, the panel is expected to take far-reaching decisions.
Although the panel chairman conceded that the Assembly had not provided guidelines for the operations of the panel, it had used its discretion to draft one whose authority they would invoke to dismiss the case should the lawmakers fail to appear today.
“Where the House of Assembly fails or neglects to appear and lead evidence in proof of the allegations, the panel, upon proof of service, may dismiss the allegations.”
Upon compliance by the Assembly, however, Mr. Usman said no member of the panel was allowed to talk to the press for the duration of the investigation, adding that the panel would sit on Sundays and public holidays if need be.
In a brief address before the panel, Governor Al-Makura maintained that although he was yet to be officially served with a notice of impeachment, his decision to appear before the panel was solely because of the notice of appearance served by the panel and out of respect for constituted authority and the rule of law.
“I was never served impeachment notice, I appear in response to the notice served on me by the Panel to clear my name of these spurious and unfounded allegations” he said adding that he would defend himself with a representation.
Apart from the ongoing probe by the Panel Almakura hinted that he would challenge the matter further in order to clear himself saying “I also intend to challenge these allegations at an appropriate forum”.
Although the statement of not quite clear it is believed he may seek legal action on the Assembly after the panel had submitted its report.
Adducing reasons as to why the Assembly failed to show up before the Panel, Hon. Francis Orogu (PDP-Keana) insisted that the whole process is in fatal breach of the constitution and the Assembly would not be party to such illegality.
He maintains that lawmakers are still waiting for the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to reconstitute the Panel in line with the resolution of the Assembly for reasons bordering on two of the panel members being card carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one Rev. Joel Galadima, for being a serving board member with the Christian Pilgrims Welfare board.