Falana slams lawmakers, says they have no power to reject verdict
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Nasarawa State House of Assembly, yesterday, cried foul of the acquittal of governor, Tanko Al-Makura, saying that the seven-man panel did not exist in the first instance to warrant any verdict.
The House also served notice it was going ahead with the removal of the governor despite the dismissal of the 16 offences levelled against him by the panel.
The action of the lawmakers comes as a Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, warned that they had no power to reject the verdict of the panel.
Falani in a statement, said that the impeachment of the governor had ended with the dismissal of the allegations by the panel.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Security, Baba Ibaku, who announced the rejection of the panel’s verdict in Lafia, said that there was no going back on the impeachment move against the governor.
He said the panel set up by the Chief Judge, Justice Umaru Dikko, to investigate 16-count charge against the governor violated Section 188 Subsection (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, describing its sitting as illegal.
The lawmaker stated: “As far as we are concerned, there is no seven-man panel that is investigating Governor Al-Makura because we had earlier asked the state Chief Judge to disband the panel.
“We sent our legal team to appear before the panel, yesterday (Tuesday), and we instructed them to simply tell the chairman of the panel, Yusuf Shehu Usman, that we (the lawmakers) only appeared through our legal team to register our protest against the composition of the panel because the members of the panel are political office holders.
He added: “We will go ahead with our moves to impeach Governor Al-Makura and nothing will stop us, no matter what it entails. We are going to file a case before the law court as soon as we finish our deliberation.”
The position of the lawmakers notwithstanding, Al-Makura hailed the decision of the panellists, describing it as victory for democracy and his vindication by the people who elected him.
He said: “My victory is for the rule of law. I am sure the people of goodwill and the people of Nasarawa State, even without coming to the tribunal, know who the governor is and what he could do and what he could not do. My vindication is for the good people of Nasarawa State.”
Reacting to the development, Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said that the leadership of the Nasarawa House of Assembly lacks the power to reject the report of the panel, which exonerated Governor Tanko Al-Makura of alleged criminal offences.
In a statement in Lagos, Falana noted that the statement credited to the leadership of the Assembly that it would reject the panel’s report, was borne out of ignorance.
Falana said: “It is a reckless invitation to anarchy. The impunity of the Assembly must be halted without any further delay.”
The lawyer noted that contrary to the position of its leadership, the Assembly could no longer bring charges against Al-Makura under the constitution, having failed to prove its allegations against the governor.
The activist recalled that on receipt of the allegations of impeachable offences against the governor, the Chief Judge set up a seven-member impeachment panel in compliance with the provisions of Section 188 of the Constitution.
Falana said the panel sat on Monday and yesterday and waited in vain for the Assembly to prove its charges against Al-Makura.
The lawyer said instead of taking up the challenge, the Assembly members shunned the panel’s invitation.
He said: “As the allegations were deemed abandoned by the Assembly, the panel rightly dismissed the charges and found the governor not guilty.
“Under the Nigerian legal system, it is trite that he who asserts must prove. Since the allegations against the governor were criminal in nature, the Assembly members were required to prove them beyond reasonable doubt.”