IMPEACHMENT is in the Constitution for a good reason. While constituents can recall their elected representatives, in the case of governors, the Constitution prescribes impeachment, a lengthy process with enough legal checks to protect a threatened governor from the caprices of legislators whose motives could be self-serving.
The issues that threw up impeachment charges against Governor Umaru Al-Makura of Nasarawa State may not be as simple as what was on paper. There would be little surprise if any of the parties heads to court.
A seven-man panel, the Chief Judge Justice Umar Dikko set up to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Governor Al-Makura by the State House of Assembly dismissed the 16 charges for lack of evidence.
We are interested in the legalities both sides are relying on to press their case. The Assembly petitioned the Chief Judge Dikko to dissolve the panel. According to the Assembly, two members of the panel were registered members of a political party while another member was a board member of the Nasarawa State Christian Pilgrim Board.
These allegations, if proven, run contrary to Section 188 (5) of the Constitution. It states, “Within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chief judge of the State shall at the request of the speaker of the House of Assembly, appoint a panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegation as provided in this section”.
Lawyers to the Assembly wanted the dissolution of the panel. The panel went on with its work. At this stage, the Assembly should head to the courts over membership of the panel.
Ordinarily, Governor Al-Makura should be celebrating his survival. The Constitution provides in Section 188 (8) that where the allegations were not proven, the matter was dead.
The contention over membership of the panel, if resolved in favour of the Assembly, would mean there was no panel in the first place, and that the allegations stand.
We commend the adherence of both parties to the law. Accusations of political motives for the impeachment do not diminish the use of a constitutionally provided avenue to check an elected official. Thankfully, the same Constitution protects the accused as well as the accuser.
It is important, therefore, that the final resolution of the matter is through the law. Our people need the law to protect them from powerful people like politicians whether from the executive, legislature or the judiciary.
The Constitution protects all. Politicians should stop manipulating processes to suit their interests. There must be more to life than political manipulations.