The All Progressives Congress, APC, has criticised calls by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members of the Nasarawa House of Assembly demanding the dissolution of the seven-man panel set up by the state Chief Judge, Suleiman U. Dikko, to probe the impeachment charges against governor Umaru Al-Makura.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the national publicity secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, said the demand by the lawmakers is unreasonable, unconstitutional and shows they either have a very poor understanding of the Constitution or are blinded by their desperation to impeach the governor.
Mohammed noted that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the chief judge upon request by the Speaker shall appoint a panel comprising of seven persons who in his opinion have unquestionable integrity, to investigate the allegations.
Section 188 (5) of the Constitution 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.”
The APC spokesman pointed out that since the appointment of the panel is left to the discretion of the Chief Judge, neither the opinion of the Speaker nor that of the legislators counts, and as such they can do nothing to dissolve it.
”…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,” Mohammed said.
The party said since the Assembly went ahead to initiate the impeachment process against sound advice, it must now follow it to its logical conclusion, stressing that even the Chief Judge who constituted the panel cannot be made to dissolve it as he simply lacks the power to so.
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly had on July 14 resolved to serve a notice of impeachment on Al-Makura over allegations of gross misconduct, abuse of oath of office and violation of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The Speaker of the Assembly had last Wednesday, directed the state chief Judge of the state to inaugurate a seven-man panel of investigation to probe the 16 allegations it had levelled against the governor.
While inaugurating the panel last Friday in Lafia, the state capital, Justice Dikko urged members to carry out their duties in line with the 1999 Constitution, stressing that “no proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”
Members of the panel include, Mohammed Sabo Keana, Joel Galadima, Adbu Usman, Samuel Chaku, Mohammad Sani Usman, David Chaga, and Yusuf Shehu Usman, who is chairman.
The panel is expected to submit its report to the Speaker within 14 days.