In what may well be the beginning of the end for Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko Friday, July 25, 2014 inaugurated a seven-man probe panel as directed by the state’s legislators.
This is coming on the heels of the controversy trailing the outcome of the meeting involving President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nasarawa State lawmakers over the impeachment of Al-Makura.
The list of members of the investigative panel has Yusuf Usman as chairman while Mohammed Keana, Joel Galadima, Abdul Usman, Samuel Chaku, Mohammed Usman, and Daniel Chaga are members.
The chief judge urged the members to discharge their duties in line with section 188 subsection 1 -11 of the Nigerian constitution 1999 which states that “a panel appointed under this section shall have powers and exercise its functions in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed by the house of assembly and within three months of its appointment, report its findings to the house of assembly”.
The lawmakers may well make good their threat to impeach Al-Makura for alleged gross misconduct and misappropriation of the Sure-P and UBEC funds which accrued to the state under his administration.
The lawmakers had on Wednesday said they would continue with the bid to impeach the governor and passed a motion directing the state Chief Judge to set up the seven-man probe panel.
The resolution and subsequent directive, however, did not go down well with the four All Progressives Congress lawmakers who protested at the session.
The APC had accused the ruling PDP and the presidency of fuelling the impeachment to stifle opposition, an allegation the presidency denied
President Jonathan had Thursday, met with the Speaker of the Nasarawa State House, Alhaji Musa Ahmed who led five other lawmakers to a close door meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The meeting with the lawmakers came barely 24 hours after the state assembly asked the state Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to constitute a seven-man panel to investigate allegations of “gross misconduct” leveled against Al-Makura.
The decision to impeach the governor was sequel to a motion moved by majority leader of the assembly, Mr. Godiya Akwashiki (PDP- Udege/Loko), seeking the setting up of the probe panel in line with the provision of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Mohammed Baba-Ibaku (PDP- Nasarawa Eggon West). The Speaker, Ahmed put the motion to vote.
Twenty of the 24 members voted in favour, while the APC lawmakers voted against the motion.
But one of the lawmakers that attended the meeting with President Jonathan told THISDAY that the impression being given was that the President had halted the impeachment proceedings against Al-Makura, explaining that the state lawmakers had already crossed the bridge before their meeting with the President.
According to the lawmaker who does not want to be quoted, “The impression being given is that the President who is the PDP leader has asked us to stop the impeachment proceedings, but the truth of the matter is there are breaches contained in the charges, that we want the governor to respond.
“It is to this that we have asked the Clerk of the House to direct the State Chief Judge to set up a panel where the governor would defend himself. So, it is not true that the President has stopped further impeachment proceedings. No, we are not a rubber stamp to the Presidency. There are issues and we want the governor to address them.
“The House would ensure that due process is followed. Yes, we are PDP members, but we should be allowed to do our constitutional legislative duties. It is when the Chief Judge submits his report that we can say that the governor is guilty or not, else we would be termed as a rubber stamp of the Presidency”, the lawmaker said.
Some stakeholders of PDP who are worried that the impeachment would confer undue advantage on the deputy governor, Luka Barau, said that as far as they were concerned, that a directive had been given to the lawmakers to back down from the planned impeachment of the governor.