There are strong indications that the 7-man panel constituted by the Chief Judge of Nasarawa state, Justice Suleiman Umaru Dikko, to investigate allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura by members of the state assembly may dismiss the charges against Al-makura.
This became evident after the aggrieved lawmakers failed to either appear personally or be represented before the panel which held its inaugural sitting yesterday in Lafia.
In his inaugural speech, chairman of the panel, Yusuf Usman Ahmed (mni), while expressing regrets over the inability of the House of assembly members to appear before the panel to present their facts on the allegations levelled against the Governor, reiterated that where the House fails or neglects to appear and lead evidence in proof of the allegations, the panel upon proof of service may dismiss the allegations.
Earlier, while presenting the guidelines on the panel’s procedures, Ahmed stated that the panel was set up by the Chief Judge of the state in pursuant to Section 188 (5) of the Constitution and was inaugurated on the 25th day of July, 2014.
He however noted that the panel was not provided with the Rule of Procedure as required under Section 188 (7) (b) of the Constitution, stressing that following its deliberations on the absence of the Rule of Procedure to guide its proceedings, the panel resolved that it was inexpedient to revert to the Chief Judge on the issue in the opinion that the panel was no longer in his control.
While noting that the panel has a constitutional responsibility to carry out its duties within a specific time frame as required in Section 188 (7) of the Constitution, the chairman maintained however
that all parties appearing before the panel shall be given ample opportunity to present their cases either in person or through legal practitioners of their choice; adding that the panel shall sit in public to hear all the parties and their witnesses.
The panel chairman pointed out that the House of assembly may make a formal presentation of the said allegations before the panel through an opening address either by themselves or through their counsel as well as the Governor who may also do same.
“Where a party fails or neglects without justifiable cause to appear before the panel upon proof of service on such a party either personally or by substituted means (as the panel may have ordered in the course of its proceedings), the panel will not be hindered in its proceedings” Ahmed stated.
Meanwhile, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura, appearing before the panel, said he found it imperative to personally make an appearance because “as a democrat I have respect for the rule of law and the Constitution of the federal republic.”
“I appeared personally to tell the panel that I was not served with the impeachment notice but I’m appearing here to purposely defend myself and clear my name from frivolous allegations against my integrity ” the Governor stated.
He disclosed further that he appeared before the panel to challenge the violation of the Constitution by the lawmakers when the House members failed to serve him with the impeachment notice but still went ahead to order the Chief Judge to inaugurate the panel.