The impeachment proceedings initiated by the 20 PDP lawmakers in the Nasarawa state House of Assembly which culminated in the setting up of investigative panel by the Chief Judge of Nasarawa state and the historic verdict of the 7 man panel headed by Yusufu Shehu Usman(mni) has since become history. This impeachment saga at least to every discerning mind and lovers of peace, progress and democracy was along forgone issue. Even a layman who is not conversant with the law profession knew quite well that the 20 PDP lawmakers have lost out in this case owing to their failure to enter proof of evidence as demanded by law.
While it is true that the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for impeachment of President or Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor but the same Constitution also provides for procedures to follow before such office holders could be impeached. Right from day one, the 20 PDP lawmakers have wittingly or unwittingly failed to adhere to these procedures. For example, the Speaker of the House who is supposed be an impartial judge whose rule within the given circumstance is to wait for the petitioners to transmit their petition to him along with the motion of impeachment supported by 2/3 majority for onward transmission to the state Chief Judge for constitution of investigative panel, could not wait but joined the fray by appending his signature among the petitioners and supporters of the motion.
The 20 PDP lawmakers also failed to adhere to the rule of law when they usurped the powers of judiciary through their outright directive for substituting service in the media. In addition to these, the lawmakers further erred by directing the Chief Judge to disband the investigative panel, knowing fully well that Investigative panel on impeachment once constituted by the Chief Judge nobody can exercise any power over it not even the Chief Judge himself. It is only a court of competent jurisdiction that can direct for its disbandment or stop its proceeding. It was in the light of this that, the position of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) became more apt when while presenting its final report on Ekiti election in Abuja last week as it commended the Chief Judge of Nasarawa state, Justice Sulaiman Umaru Dikko for ‘adhering to rule of law in discharging his responsibilities despite the intimidation by the assembly.’
The TMG through its chairman Comrade Ibrahim Zikirullahi further observed that ‘The Nasarawa State Assembly does to have the legal backing to disband or dismiss the verdict of the probe panel as
stipulated in the law of impeachment procedure.’ While stressing that it is only a competent court of law that could disband or dismiss the panel, the TMG noted that the Assembly ought to have gone to the panel to prove their allegations against the governor for the whole world to see. Apart from TMG, many legal luminaries and many political commentators across the country have spoken on the constitutionality of the action of the Chief Judge as well that of probe panel.
From the foregoing, it then becomes clear that the insistence of 20 PDP lawmakers to continue with this impeachment move as announced by the chairman of the House Committee on Information Baba Ibaku is akin to inviting anarchy in Nasarawa state and it also amounts to an affront on the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria; the very Constitution which President Jonathan took an oath to protect.
All lovers of peace, progress and democracy as well as lovers of constitutionalism in Nigeria and beyond must therefore, rise up in condemnation of this position of the PDP lawmakers in Nasarawa state.
Regrettably however elders of PDP in Nasarawa state including serving Senators and serving Minister were seen even before the full glare of the press throwing all decorum to the wind by staging a rally in
support of an illegal and unconstitutional action of members of the State Assembly, despite the glaring situations on ground.
This action of PDP elders has once again brought into fore the fact that they (elders) were bereft of ideas of how to advance the cause of democracy and rule of law in Nasarawa state. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not only in Nasarawa state but in the whole country is desperate to reclaim and to remain in power at whatever cost or else why would the party refuse, not even clandestinely,
to discipline or caution House Members over their plans to continue with this impeachment move, since it has been proved that any further action by the State House of Assembly concerning or relating to
impeachment of Al-makura is not only illegal but unconstitutional, taking into account the verdict of the investigative panel which did not only dismissed all the 16 allegations levelled against Al-makura but cleared him of any wrong doing.
The state’s House of Assembly must take cognizance of this. The 20 PDP House Members must come out of their self- deception and stop acting out as judges in their own case. Nigerian democracy has indeed come of age; therefore any attempt to subvert it, however the antics will be vehemently resisted.
However, Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura in his part must remain focused on his avowed determination to provide service to the people. It has become obvious that the PDP in the state is running short of what to make as campaign issue against Al-makura led administration come 2015 hence the resort to all kinds of mischief to distract the attention of government away from its good policies and programs. We cannot, in this age, afford to have naughty people as our leaders.
BalaDan-Alkali wrote from Awe, Nasarawa state.