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UPDATE: Impeachment panel adjourns as Al-Makura appears before panel

* Al-Makura counsel seeks dismissal of caseThe panel sitting over the allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has…


* Al-Makura counsel seeks dismissal of case
The panel sitting over the allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has just adjourned till tomorrow, after it announced that the 20 lawmakers who signed a 16-count impeachment notice to remove the governor defaulted appearance.
Yusuf Shehu Usman, the panel chairman, after consultation with the other six members of the panel, just announced the adjournment, saying the decision was taken “in the interest of justice and fairness.” He said the panel decided to give an extra day’s grace for the signatories of the impeachment notice to appear and prove their allegations against the governor.
He said the panel will cause a notice of invitation of the 20 members to be served on them, and be pasted at relevant offices for their attention.
The adjournment came few minutes after the panel reconvened after a brief stand down of the hearing, to consider the non-appearance of the 20 members either in persons or through their legal representatives.
Meanwhile, the lead counsel to the governor, Chief Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), rose at the reconvention from the brief break, to plead the case be dismissed, citing Paragraph 7 (C) of the guidelines of the panel, as been in tandem with Section 28 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which provides that when a case is called and the prosecution is not in court for appearance, the court can dismiss the case.
Paragraph 7 (c) of the panel guidelines states that: “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.”
The lead counsel pleaded with the panel to invoke Paragraph 7 (c) because it is in tandem with the provisions of Section 280 of the Criminal Procedures Act.
“I have come to confidently call for the case to be dismissed,” the lead counsel said, he said, faulting the 20 lawmakers on various ways including that they did not serve either the governor, nor make a copy of the impeachment notice available to the panel.
 
“The only available notice is the publication in the Daily Trust,” Chief Udechukwu said, as he insisted that the panel does not any work to do with the non-appearance of the lawmakers.
But the panel chairman, declined action, insisting that in the interest of justice and fairness, the panel will give the lawmakers the grace to appear tomorrow to prove the allegations against the governor.
“The panel has heard the submissions of the counsel to the governor. Having fully consulted, we want to say while we have not fully disagreed, we are of the view that Nasarawa State House of Assembly should be given further opportunity to appear and present their allegations against the governor.
“We will give them yet another opportunity to appear tomorrow (Tuesday). Consequent upon this, we shall; order the secretary to the tribunal to paste copies of the hearing notice to give them yet another opportunity,” the panel chairman said.
Daily Trust made several efforts to speak with members, calling not less than five of them, including the Speaker, Musa Ahmed Mohammed, and the House Committee Chairman on Information – all of them signatories to the impeachment notice. But none picked their calls.
The spokesman to the speaker, Ibrahim Tanko was contacted, but he told Daily Trust that he has no authority to speak for his boss.

 

EARLIER…

* Today, I’ll tell my story; I have not been served – Al-Makura
Nasarawa State governor, Uamru Tanko Al-Makura is currently appearing before the Seven-man panel investigating allegations of gross misconduct against him, by 20 members of the PDP in the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA).

The governor is appearing in person, although he is clustered by a Nine-man team of legal representatives led by Chief Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). The other members of the legal team are: Olufunke Aboyade (SAN), Professor Earnest Ojukwu, Kehinde Aina, O.O. Adeleye, Olatoye Akinbode, Abdulwasi Musah, Chibuikem Mbachu, and Benjamin Nwosu.
 
The governor arrived the Ministry of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs along Shendam Road in Lafia, capital of Nasarawa State, venue of the panel sitting, as early as 9am, while the panel took the seats before a large crowd of government appointees, associates of the governor and officials of the APC, the governor’s party in the state.
 
But the 20 PDP lawmakers, who signed the impeachment notice against the governor, and their legal representatives were conspicuously absent from the hall.
 

Daily Trust recalls that the 20 members have long declared they have nothing to do with this panel because they had during a controversial proceeding they held in Karu, at the gateway to Abuja – outside of the hollowed chambers of the House in Lafia – passed a resolution directing the Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko to reconstitute the panel. The 20 members alleged that members of the panel are not suitable because some are members of a political party, just as they said others have friendship ties with the governor.
 
Mohammed Baba Ibaku, the House Committee Chairman on Information, who also signed the 16-count impeachment notice, had, last week told Daily Trust that the signatories will not honour the invitation of appearance before this panel. He said the panel lacks the jurisdiction to sit over the impeachment notice because the controversial Karu resolution knocked it out.
 

At about 10:22am, the panel called the two parties involved in the matter. The governor’s legal team rose to announce appearance for the governor, who is also appearing in person.
 
But the panel announced six times, without a representation from the 20 members, either in persons, or by their legal team. The panel chairman, Yusuf Shehu Usman just announced to the hall that the 20 members were duly served to appear, and added that it was clear the members are not in the hall.
 
During the opening of the public hearing, the panel chairman read out the guidelines for the exercise, and declared that the panel will not be hindered in the course of proceedings where any party fails to appear.
 
He also said where the House of Assembly fails or neglects to prove the allegations they have made against the governor, the panel will proceed to make the appropriate findings. This is just as the panel said where the governor fails to defend himself against the allegations, the panel will proceed to make appropriate findings and recommendations as provided for in section 188 (9).
 
Al-Makura is just called upon to present his response to the allegations, and he said he has not been served by the assembly as required Section 188 (2)(b) of the constitution.
 
He said his appearance is in response to the notice of invitation by the panel. He is just saying the panel gives him the opportunity to tell his story, and “clear my name.”
 
The 20 members, had on July 14, passed an impeachment motion, commencing the impeachment proceedings against the governor on allegations of gross misconduct.

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