Human rights activist and Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has said the leadership of the Nasarawa House of Assembly lacks the power to reject the report of the panel set up by the state Chief Judge to investigate Governor Tanko Al-Makura of alleged gross misconduct.
The seven-man panel on Tuesday exonerated the governor of all the allegations; thereby invalidating the impeachment notice signed by 20 out of the 24 member state House of Assembly.
In a statement last night in Lagos, Falana noted that the statement credited to the leadership of the Assembly that it would reject the panel’s report and go ahead with its impeachment proceedings against the governor, was borne out of ignorance.
He said: “It is a reckless invitation to anarchy. The impunity of the Assembly must be halted without any further delay”.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria 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 accordance 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.
He said instead of taking up the challenge, the Assembly members shunned the panel’s invitation to appear.
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.
“Since the Assembly failed to prove the allegations in any material particular, the panel cannot be faulted for dismissing them in toto.
“It is pertinent to state that by virtue of Section 188(8) of the Constitution, no further proceedings shall arise from the notice of impeachment once the governor has been found not guilty by the panel duly constituted by the Chief Judge”.