he plot to unseat the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-makura suffered terminal setback when the probe panel set to look into allegations of “gross misconduct” against him dismissed the charges.
The panel which delivered its verdict last Tuesday was constituted by the State Chief Judge on the request of 20 lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who were pushing for the removal of the governor.
The state House of Assembly had on July 14, through a resolution, moved for the removal of Governor Al-makura over a 16-count charge of misconduct and breach of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They unanimously asked the State Chief Judge to set up a panel to look into the allegations.
However, after the State’s Chief Judge set up the panel as requested, the PDP members insisted that the panel should be disbanded.
The 20 lawmakers subsequently stopped sitting in Lafia and moved to a hotel at Karu Local Government Area. There they agreed to a resolution to request that the Chief Judge should disband the panel, saying they have no faith in its membership.
They subsequently boycotted all sittings of the panel leading to a return of not guilty submission. It was therefore expected when an elated Al-makura declared that; “This is victory for democracy. Those who raised the allegations against me could not come forward to prove or substantiate them,”
We agree with the governor that his exoneration by the panel is a victory for democracy. But we are not sure if the actions of the members of the State Assembly were motivated by the pursuit of any democratic ideals. It is even doubtful if the members of the state legislative assembly understand the provisions of the constitution as they relate to removal of executive officers from office.
The 1999 constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria provides for the removal of the President, vice President, the Governor and the deputy Governor. In making the provisions, it spells out a due process to be followed. The process empowers legislators to raise allegations and mandate the Chief Judge/Chief Justice to set up a panel to investigate the allegations.
In making these provisions, the constitution intends to entrench the principle of separation of powers without which an individual or a group of persons who find themselves in positions of authority will arrogate to themselves despotic powers.
In Nasarawara, the law makers played their role by raising allegations. They also played their role by calling on the Chief Judge to set up a panel. But they scored their own goal by arrogating
themselves the powers of the judiciary when they insisted that they wanted their handpicked members to be on the investigation panel.
The aborted attempt to remove Al-makura is good news for the judiciary. It is bad news for state legislators who have turned the provisions for removal of executive officers into tools of blackmail and intimidation. The members of the Nasarawa state House of Assembly in particular should hang their heads in shame on account of their crude conduct.