By Segun Odeleye
On Tuesday, the seven-member panel investigating the allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Governor Umaru Al-Makura of Nasarawa state by the state assembly dismissed all the charges, in a big blow for the lawmakers. Whereas the panel constitutionally has up to three months to conclude its sitting, it sat for just two weeks after which it dismissed the charges against Al-Makura.
The state assembly which has insisted ever since the panel was set-up, that it was not satisfied with the members of the panel, decided on Tuesday to make an appearance during the sitting of the panel. Represented by a legal team comprising of Ocha Ulegede (lead), John Mathew, P. A. Daffi, Steven Idikwu, Ache Obande and Abraham Aruta, the assembly made a case that the panel was breaching the Nigerian constitution.
The lead lawyer, Ulegede, subsequently presented a protest letter written by the legislators. He argued that the committee had members who were card-carrying members of a political party, making their appointments contrary to Section 188 of the constitution. According to him, the constitution did not give the Chief Judge absolute power to appoint members of the panel.
“Section 188 of the constitution spelt out clearly how the panel should be composed. They are three fundamental issues among which is that member of the panel cannot be a card carrying member of a political party. They cannot hold government appointment and that the panel does not have the power to set the rules of proceeding guiding the sitting”.
The legislators’ legal team said two members of the seven-member panel, Abdu Usman and Mohammed Keana, are members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, while Joel Galadima is on the payroll of the state government.
Ulegede thereafter requested to leave the premises, telling the panel members that the assembly does not recognize the panel.
After the presentation by the legal team of the state assembly, the panel went on a recess, then resumed afterwards to dismiss the 16 charges against the governor who had made his own presentation a day before.