The crisis between the executive and the legislative arms of the Nasarawa State Government is deepening with the Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, saying the fleeing lawmakers are on self-exile.
Mr. Al-Makura, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday through his Special Adviser on Media, Abdulhameed Kwarra, was reacting to speculations that the lawmakers would return next week to remove the governor illegally.
Mr. Al-Makura said the lawmakers had been thoroughly disgraced with his acquittal by the panel that investigated the 16 charges of misconduct brought against him.
He said, “You can see that with the acquittal of the governor by the panel, the state house of assembly has been thoroughly disgraced. They fled the state because they cannot stand the shame of the panel clearing the governor of any wrongdoing.
“When the panel was still on, they enjoyed the protection of security agents but now they are on their own. They are just like any other citizen in the state. They cannot come back to Lafia because of what they did.”
The governor noted that the executive arm of the government had no issue with its counterpart in the legislature, adding that the lawmakers were free to return to the state and carry out their constitutional duties to the people of the state.
However, he said it was the lawmakers, the Minister of Information and the leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that have issues with the investigative panel that cleared Mr. Al-Makura
As long as the lawmakers and their backers do not have issues with the governor, he said, the executive arm of the government would continue to ignore whatever speculations were being made within and outside the state.
The governor dismissed the speculations that the assembly might go ahead to remove him when it resumed next week, saying there was no grounds for such to happen under the law.
He said, “The 1999 Constitution has clearly enunciated that when a panel has cleared a governor of the charges brought against him, he cannot be impeached on account of such charges.
“We won’t join issues with the lawmakers because they have nothing against the governor. They have vowed to challenge the decision of the investigative panel. We will only join issues with them if they join us in the suit they intend to file against the panel.
“But if the lawmakers where right in what they did, they should have come back when Labaran Maku, Akwe Doma and Solomon Ewuga came to Lafia on a rally on Thursday.
“Let them come back to Lafia and carry out their legitimate duties to the people of the state and stop staying in Abuja on self-exile.”
The assembly had resumed from recess on Monday, August 4, but PREMIUM TIMES was told that only the APC members turned up at the complex.
When this newspaper visited the assembly complex on Wednesday when members were scheduled to meet, their offices were under locked and the gallery empty.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Ibrahim Tanko, said he was not authorised to speak on the crisis and referred us to his principal, Musa Mohammed.
However, several calls to the speaker and a text message requesting a telephone interview were not replied.
But it was the PDP Chairman in the state, Mr. Illiya, who countered Mr. Kwarra, saying the lawmakers would soon return to Lafia to continue with their legitimate duties.
Mr. Illiya spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview from Abuja.
While he would not speak for the lawmakers, he, however, insisted that Mr. Al-Makura’s spokesperson was overstepping his official brief.
He said, “Those who have taken over the roles of the panel and are speaking on behalf of the chief justice of the state have chosen to do so because they are desperate.
“The issue of impeachment is not a party matter. It is a constitutional matter because the assembly as a whole was engaged in the investigation of all the ministries. They also performed the oversight functions that are assigned to them under the law.
“An honourable member from Keffi indicted the ministry he chairs and I read the report. He pointed out some ills about the ministry and he is an APC member.
“If the members have taken action on all those illegalities that is going on in the government, I wonder why some people would just sit down and be claiming that the lawmakers are not popular. It is the person who is speaking that is not popular.
“Because of what he did, he was thrown out of the assembly and some other person took his place. In any case, I don’t have the power to speak for the assembly but I want to believe that when they resume they will perform the roles they were elected to perform.”
Mr. Illiya noted that those claiming that the panel cleared Mr. Al-Makura were free to do so but added that the panel was given a job to do by the lawmakers.
He argued that it is only expedient for the panel to submit its report to those who assigned it to carry out the investigation.
“Oversight functions are being carried out by lawmakers not only in Nasarawa State but all over the country. Oversight functions are being performed by National Assembly members. If the panel that the CJ set up has the right to clear the governor, why are they claiming that members are out to impeach the governor illegally?
“Which one is legal and which one is illegal? It was Kwarra himself that came up to defend the CJ for all that he did. We are not saying anything as a party; we are asking that the Constitution takes its full course,” Mr. Illiya said.
The PDP chieftain, however, noted that the security of the lawmakers was in the hand of Mr. Al-Makura and security agencies in the state, adding that the assembly men will definitely return to complete the job they started.
“The security of the lawmkaers is in the hands of the government of the day and the police commissioner. And they have chosen to use the security as they like.What I know is that members of the assembly were on recess. Very shortly, they will return to the state. If their security is not guaranteed, then the governor and the commissioner of police will have to take responsibility for that,” he said.