The seven-man investigative panel set up by the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State, Justice Umar Dikko, has dismissed the allegations levelled against Governor Tanko Al-Makura by the state House of Assembly.
The panel, at its sitting on Tuesday said it did not find any proof of the 16 counts levelled against the governor by the assembly.
The assembly members had in their notice of impeachment, published in some newspapers, accused the governor of gross misconduct and violation of provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The Chairman of the committee, Yusuf Usman, said the report on their findings would be sent to the Speaker of the assembly, Musa Mohammed.
Usman pointed out that the panel had carried out its responsibilities in compliance with section 188 (8) of the 1999 Constitution.
The governor’s lead counsel , Chief Nnoruka Udechukwu, had earlier urged the panel to dismiss all the allegations because the assembly failed to prove them.
Earlier in his submission, the counsel for the lawmakers, Ocha P. Ulegede, alleged that two members of the panel were members of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He added that another member, Rev. Joel Galadima, was a member of the Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board.
Ulegede further argued that the proceedings of the panel on August 1 and August 5, 2014 as well as other subsequent ones were illegal because the committee had been disbanded by the assembly.
He said the sittings of the panel were in violation of Section 188 (7) (a) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The counsel submitted that the panel usurped the powers of the assembly to make laws.
He, therefore, urged the committee to disqualify itself to avoid a constitutional crisis.
Fielding questions from journalists shortly after the lawmakers walked out of the panel, Ulegede insisted that they would not partake in a process that was illegal.
Ulegede said, “We are not ready to be part of the breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which they (lawmakers) swore to uphold. The powers given to the Chief Judge of Nasarawa State are not absolute.”
He said , “Rev. Joel is a member of the Nasarawa Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board and he collected the June 2014 salary
“Mohammed Sabo Keana is a member of the PDP and his name is number two on the party’s register in Keana Local Government Area of the state.
“Galadima is a member of the PDP in the Keffi Local Government of the state. So when you look at issues like these, will you say the Chief Judge complied with the provisions of the Constitution?”
Reacting to the verdict of the panel, the national leadership of the PDP said that it had yet to be briefed on what happened in the state.
It said because of this, it would be difficult for it to comment on the clearance of the governor by the panel.
Apart from this, the party said the issue at hand was between the governor and the people of the state.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the party was waiting for the state chapter of the party to brief it before it could make any statement.
He said, “We are not following what is happening in the state. Besides, the issue is a local matter between the governor and the assembly.
“We are not following what is happening in the state and we are waiting to be briefed by our party in the state before we could make any statement in the matter.
“For now, we are not involved.’’
On its part, the All Progressives Congress hailed the dismissal of the allegations.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described it as a vindication of the party’s position that the impeachment move against Al-Makura and others in the country was a mere political witch-hunt against the opposition in the country.
Mohammed, who spoke with one of our correspondents on the telephone, said the PDP had orchestrated the impeachment moves to “decapitate the opposition”.
He said the party was happy that the panel had dismissed the allegations as being unfounded and baseless.
Mohammed said, “Our position that has been that the gale of impeachment in the country is nothing but political witch-hunt, has been vindicated.
“We saw the gale of impeachment as nothing but part of the grand plan of the PDP to decapitate the opposition. We are happy that the panel has dismissed the impeachment allegations as baseless and unfounded.”
Also, a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said the dismissal of the allegations was a real life vindication of APC as a party of “the people that creates and cherishes good governance.
“The era where a political super power will arbitrarily use impeachment as a mechanism to get rid of political opposition is over,” he said.
The governor had on Monday filed a suit at the state High Court, seeking an order to either quash or set aside the assembly’s impeachment notice dated July 14, 2014.
Al-Makura also prayed the court to declare as illegal, the publication of the notice of impeachment by the clerk of the assembly.