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Assembly in fresh bid to oust Al-Makura

The Nasarawa State House of Assembly is planning fresh impeachment proceedings against Governor Umaru Al-Makura over allegations of misuse of funds, Daily Trust learnt from…

The Nasarawa State House of Assembly is planning fresh impeachment proceedings against Governor Umaru Al-Makura over allegations of misuse of funds, Daily Trust learnt from sources in the legislature and the executive.
Al-Makura survived a previous impeachment bid when a probe panel set up by the Chief Judge cleared him of accusations labeled by the House because lawmakers failed to provide proof. The lawmakers objected to the composition of the panel, and petitioned against the CJ when he declined to disband it.
Information pieced together by Daily Trust over the past week showed that 20 of the 24 members of the assembly who signed the botched July 14 impeachment notice are part of the fresh plot.
They are all members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while those other 4 lawmakers not part of the plot are in the All Progressives Congress (APC), just like Al-Makura.
Under the new impeachment bid, the governor will be accused of misappropriating a total of about N20 billion, Daily Trust learnt.
The fresh charges are likely to be unveiled in the next week, following a meeting on Saturday between the lawmakers and some PDP top shots in Akwanga to perfect a new plan to oust the governor.
Assembly sources said the legislators’ lawyers have studied the report of the Auditor General of the state, Mr. Rayyanu Lamus, which was presented to the House during the June/July probe of the revenues and expenditure of the state. The new impeachment charges will be drawn from this audit report. Part of the charges in the botched impeachment move was also drawn from this report.
Assembly sources told Daily Trust that the audit report was not exhaustively used in July, hence the decision to look at it again for the renewed impeachment bid.
“The House has taken a critical look at this report to draft these charges. It was discovered that over N20 billion have been expended without accounts to the funds,” a lawmaker said.
The amount represents part of the expenditure from the time Al-Makura assumed office in 2011 to part of the second quarter of 2014.
The legislators are also planning take advantage of a petition by a defendant in a case, to the National Judicial Commission (NJC), against the Nasarawa Chief Judge Suleiman Dikko, who the lawmakers consider a stumbling block to the previous attempt at impeaching Al-Makura.
The CJ had set up a panel to investigate the July 14 allegations, with a membership that the House of Assembly rejected.
The lawmakers now hope that the CJ will be removed based on this petition to the NJC over alleged delay in entering judgment in a case he concluded hearing for over three years.
“In the event the CJ is fired, an acting CJ will be appointed. That is all we are looking for,” one lawmaker said.
“We are not looking for a CJ to do our bidding. We are looking for a CJ who will be impartial, and look at the impeachment allegations, and apply the laws as they are.”
The petition against Justice Dikko, a copy of which was made available to Daily Trust, was written by Iordekaren Alye of Kadarko, Nasarawa State, on August 25, and received by the NJC on August 28.
It pertains to a suit between Zegejir Wa’apera v. Irodekera Alye. The petition complains that three years after the parties in the case filed their written addresses, which were adopted, the CJ has not delivered judgment.
Lawmakers contacted declined to speak on record, but they told Daily Trust in confidence that there is an impeachment move in the works.
When Daily Trust sought for reaction, the House Information Committee Chairman, Mohammed Baba Ibaku, denied that the assembly was pursuing a fresh plot to impeach the governor.
 “I don’t know; there are no fresh allegations against the governor, not to my knowledge,” he said.
House Minority Leader Tanko Maikatako said: “The law presumes everyone innocent until the contrary is proven. If my colleagues have evidence against the governor, it is up for them to bring them up.”
Government sources said they are aware of the fresh plot, but declined to speak officially.
Information Commissioner, Hamza Elayo, told Daily Trust the state government is not aware of any such moves, but added that the government will not be surprised if a fresh impeachment plot is coming because of the constant “bullying” the governor has faced from the assembly for over three years.
State PDP spokesman, Yohanna Mark Neto, declined to confirm any fresh plot to impeach the governor, but added that “as far as I am concerned, we are still waiting for the outcome of the House petition to the NJC.”
Meanwhile, Governor Al-Makura has asked the State High Court sitting in Keffi to stop the House of Assembly from commencing fresh impeachment proceedings against him.
Daily Trust could not get the court papers for details, but an official confirmed that the governor’ counsel filed the case on Friday.
Al-Makura’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Barrister Abdullahi Mohammed, deposed to an affidavit in support of the court processes.
Mohammed confirmed to Daily Trust by telephone that the governor went to court to seek “declarative reliefs on constitutional issues,” but did not give details.
The lead counsel of the assembly during the previous impeachment proceedings, Barrister Ocha Ulegede, also confirmed that the governor is in court against the lawmakers and the CJ.
He said the legal team he is leading has already filed papers in response and are waiting for the commencement of the case in court.

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