SAN Faults Nasarawa Lawmakers on Service of Impeachment Notice
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, yesterday faulted the mode of service of the impeachment notice on the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, by the state House of Assembly
Citing judgments of the Supreme Court on the powers of lawmakers to impeach governors, Awomolo said the service of impeachment notice on the governor must be personal.
He explained that having failed to serve the impeachment notice on the governor personally, the whole impeachment process would result in a nullity.
He argued that if a law requires the fulfillment of a pre-condition before a particular act or substantive act could be done, non-fulfillment of the pre-condition would affect the outcome of the main act.
Awomolo, who expressed concern at the gale of impeachment in the country, said the constitution deliberately made the process a tedious one so that the whole democratic process would not be thwarted.
He said: “Publication in newspaper falls short of the requirement for service of notice of impeachment.
“If at all permissible, it must be with the leave of the court. If service is by a committee of the House of Representative, substituted service can be with the leave of the president or speaker as the case may be.”
He said indiscriminate removal of governors or the threat to do so remained a threat to peace and stability of the country.
The state's Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, had last Friday constituted a seven-man panel in Lafia, the state capital.
Members of the investigative panel are: Yusuf Shehu Usman as Chairman, Mohammed Sabo Keana, a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Reverend Joel Galadima, Alhaji Abdul Usman, Samuel Chaku, Mohammed Sani Usman and Pastor Daniel Chaga as members.
The assembly had, on July 14 reconvened from recess at an emergency session and passed a motion of impeachment, alleging various breaches of the provisions of the constitution against Al-Makura, including misappropriation of funds from 2011 and 2014, as well as alleged gross misconduct and abuse of office.
20 of the 24 lawmakers, all of them of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members, signed the impeachment notice, containing 16-count charges, which copy is yet to be made public.
The lawmakers also passed a motion for the assembly to serve the governor with the notice by substituted service.
The lawmakers thereafter published the impeachment notice containing the 16-count charges against Al-Makura claiming that they could not reach the governor to effect service on him personally.
Al-Makura is yet to respond to the allegations.
The investigating panel is expected to resume sitting after the Sallah break.
The panel has three months to investigate the allegations, and submit its report in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
The governor had been served an impeachment notice bordering on 16-count charges and signed by 20 of the 24 members of the assembly about two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Al-Makura has assembled seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to defend him when the panel set up by the state begins sitting.
The seven-man team of SANs, it was learnt, arrived in Lafia, the state capital last Sunday.
It was gathered that the SANs drove straight to the Government House, where they met on how to defend the governor at the panel.
A top government official, who pleaded anonymity, had said the governor had put together the seven-man team of SANs, to represent him at the investigative panel since the lawmakers did not heed to the intervention of the traditional rulers.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Affairs, Abdulhamid Kwarra, who addressed a press conference in Lafia last Tuesday, had stated that the governor was putting everything together to appear before the panel at the appropriate time to defend himself.