Al-Makura: Impeachment panel adjourns abruptly

al-MakuraThe impeachment panel probing allegations of corrupt practices against the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, adjourned abruptly on Monday after the governor appeared before it.

The sudden adjournment, the panel said, was to allow the House of Assembly, which levelled the allegation, to appear before it to prove the allegations.

Chairman of the seven-man panel, Yusuf Shehu Usman, said the adjournment was in the interest of fairness and justice.

Usman said the House, which has already distanced itself from the activities of the panel, must prove the allegations against Al-Makura, who on Monday absolved himself of any wrongdoing.

Usman said the panel has made provisions for both the accused and the accuser to either appear in person or be represented, adding: “…. that the Nasarawa State House of Assembly may adduce evidence to prove the allegations contained in the said Notice of Impeachment of the Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, dated 14th, July 2014.

“Pursuant to the above, the Nasarawa State House of Assembly may call witnesses and tender such documents as they deem necessary to prove the allegations against the Governor and where the party fails or neglects without justifiable cause to appear before the panel, upon proof of service on such party, either personally or by substituted means (as the panel may have ordered in the course of the proceedings), the panel will not be hindered in the conduct of its proceedings.

“Where the House of Assembly fails or neglects to appear and lead evidence in proof of the allegations, the panel, upon proof of service, may dismiss the allegations.

“Also where the governor fails or neglects to defend the allegations against him and if the panel is satisfied that he has been duly served either personally or by substituted means (as the panel may have ordered), the panel will proceed to consider the evidence led by the House of Assembly and make appropriate findings.”

Al-Makura appeared at the public sitting of the panel personally on Monday.

Led by his lead counsel, Chief Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN), Al-Makura told the panel that he was not served the notice of impeachment personally, but that he decided to appear before the panel to clear himself of the allegations levelled against him by the House of Assembly.

Al-Makura presented a voluminous statement of defence to the panel.

Udechuku urged the panel to dismiss the notice of impeachment for want of proof.

He said the failure of the House to appear before the panel was an evidence that it had no proof of the allegations.

Majority of the lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-dominated Nasarawa State House of Assembly wants the governor impeached, in a saga that started a little over a month ago.

Of the 24 members of the state’s legislature, 20 are members of the PDP and they are believed to have been instructed to follow the impeachment of Al-Makura through the letter.

Meanwhile, a protest organised in favour of Al-Makura by a group coincided with the appearance of the governor before the panel investigating charges against him.

In a protest organised by a number of advocacy groups, with members bearing banners, flyers and others, the group moved round the Ikeja axis in Lagos, saying no to Al-Makura impeachment.

Some of the people participating in the protest were seen sporting T-shirts with the inscription of the Centre for Constitution Governance (CCG), a developmental and anti-corruption coalition founded by the late Beko Ransome-Kuti.