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Published On: Tue, Jul 29th, 2014

Nyako’s impeachment: Matters arising

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Gov NyakoBy Ifeanyi Nwoko

Controversy had continued to trail the July 15 impeachment of Gov. Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, and the impeachment process initiated against Gov. Tanko al-Makura of Nasarawa State.

Though impeachment is constitutional, stakeholders are worried on how the dramatis personae handled the issue.

As expected, the All Progressive Congress (APC), Nyako’s political party vowed that the party would challenge the impeachment in court, and decried impeachment threat on Al-Makura.

The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who spoke recently on Nyako’s impeachment described the process as null and void.

“What was Nyako impeached for? Offences he allegedly committed five years ago?

“The entire `impeachment’ of Gov. Nyako is so fraught with irregularities, bias, judicial contradictions and in violation of every procedural and constitutional provision that it is the worst manifestation of impunity.

“We intend to mount an immediate and rigorous challenge to this gross injustice to the party and people of Adamawa.

“Why is Gov. Al-Makura of Nasarawa State being threatened with impeachment? Allegations of extra-budgetary expenditure,” he queried.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is an indigene of Adamawa, also aligned himself with the APC national chairman.

An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mr Segun Sawyer, who spoke on the issue, said impeachable offence is impeachable offence, but stressed that Nyako should not be prosecuted for an offence he committed in his first tenure.

Mr Garba Pwul, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, disagreed with Sawyer, stressing that there was no time limit to prosecute a person who committed an offence.

“In my view, even if the offence was committed before the person became governor; and we realise that offence is completely out of term, and not in keeping with character of the person who can be the governor, he can still be impeached.

“Incidentally, the constitution itself does not define the offences that would amount to impeachable offences.

“The language `impeachable offences’ is not used in the constitution, the constitution says gross misconduct, and gross misconduct is not defined; it is left to the opinion and discretion of the members of the house of assembly.

“I am sure that is deliberate because by the time it is defined, you will not be able to take care of unforeseen situations,” he said.

Using the impeachment of Alhaji Balarabe Musa of Kaduna State in 1981 as an example, Pwul however faulted the process and speed with which the decision was reached.

“ The impeachment was rushed, politically motivated and seemingly punitive and vindictive,’’ Pwul said.

 He stressed that the underlying factor was that the impeachment was legal and constitutionally provided for.

Pwul expressed optimism that if the case goes to court, it would be speedily concluded to allow time for the governor’s return or the conduct of a new election.

For Rep. Gerald Irona (PDP-Imo), the impeachment was a welcome development, adding that many of the governor are not democratic in their actions.

“I want to comment the President of Nigeria; it is only in the National Assembly that a member will sit in the hallowed chamber and say all sorts of things against President Jonathan without molestation.

“You dare not speak against any government bill in any state of the federation; what we have in this country as governors are demigods,” he said.

On allegations that the presidency was behind the impeachment and threats of impeachment, Irona said that the accusers were not sincere.

 “Why is it that the president has not removed Gov. Amaechi of Rivers and Gov. Kwankwaso of Kano State, even though the duo constantly abuse the president and criticise his policies,’’ he queried.

He said that the same president that has been tagged a weak man and unfit for challenges of governance is now being accused of tyranny at the same time.

He added that if the governors were sincere, no amount of external influence would make the members of the house to impeach a good governor.

Rep. Segun Odeneye ( APC- Ogun),  however aligned with the earlier position of the APC leadership, that the impeachment was orchestrated.

On his part, Mr Okonicha Jibuno, an economist, said that the lots of the people of Adamawa may not be improved within the period the acting governor would be in office.

He said that there may be a replay in Adamawa of what happened in Delta during the ` two months judicial removal’ of Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan.

“Sam Obi, who became acting governor by virtue of a court case, appointed 32 new aides and bought them new cars, and he did not sack the existing aides of Uduaghan, and so he bloated the system; more salaries and allowances were paid.

“The acting governor also went ahead to pay the new appointees a couple of frivolous allowances while awarding huge contracts which he paid upfront and in full.

 “So if by impeachment you put in an ambitious and reckless acting governor in the name of a speaker, it would take the state miles and miles backwards,” he said.

Though impeachment is constitutional and legitimate, stakeholders want lawmakers to always be fair and impartial in invoking the constitutional requirement. (NAN)

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