Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly have said there is no going back on the effort to remove the state governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura.
The state legislators said they would not enter into any negotiation over the impeachment notice already served on the governor. They also said they would embark on a protest in Lafia, the state capital, on Monday (today) against interference by traditional rulers in the state.
Traditional rulers in Lafia, including the Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Mustapa Agwai, had on Thursday promised to initiate a peace move between the governor and the lawmakers.
But the Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Security, Mr. Baba Ibaku, representing Udege/Loko Constituency, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said that the impeachment procedure was still on course.
“We have started this. We cannot go back, no matter the involvement of the chairman of traditional rulers,” Ibaku said.
He denied insinuations that the state legislators had fled from the state capital.
“We are on recess, so we can choose to stay anywhere we feel like. Even if we are not on recess, there is no law that says we must stay in Lafia and the fact is that there is the need for us to go to the chamber. We will go to the chamber and come back,” he said.
The lawmaker confirmed to The PUNCH that members of the House would stage a protest on Monday against any interference by the traditional rulers across the state.
Ibaku said any intervention by the traditional rulers would prevent the lawmakers from carrying out their constitutional duty.
He said what happened in Adamawa State would happen in Nasarawa if Al-Makura failed to respond to the impeachment notice served on him within the time frame given.
Also reacting to the allegation against the lawmakers that they had received N200m each as bribe to compromise their stand, another member of the Nasarawa House, Mohammed Okpede (Doma South) said, “Up to this moment that I am talking to you, I have not seen the Emir of Lafia, Isah Mustapha Agwai, and none of our members have seen the emir.” He said the allegation was false.
Okpede said, “We are counting the days. We started about five days ago and when the time reaches, we will respond appropriately.
“ We have the number of days stipulated in the constitution and as soon as the time reaches, we will just go back to the chamber and direct the chief judge of the state to set up a committee of inquiry for the governor to appear.
“We are on recess. Everybody has the liberty to go to anywhere he feels like.”
Commenting on the proposed visit of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress—Maj.- Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Bola Tinubu, and ex-Vice- President Atiku Abubakar to Lafia on Monday (today), Okpede said, “That is their problem. They are troublemakers and if peradventure they come, we are not going to join issue with them.”
He said the APC leaders would not hinder the lawmakers from performing their constitutional duty.
Also, Babawi Chetubo (Karu/Gitata constituency), said that he was not aware of any threat to burn down the lawmakers’ houses.
The state chairman of APC, Philip Shekwo, declined to comment, saying the traditional rulers in the state had issued a communiqué on the problem after their meeting
Asked what would be the next step by the party if the lawmakers disregarded the appeal by the traditional rulers, the APC chairman said the party would know what to do when matters reached that stage.
An APC lawmaker, Bala Adam, said that members of the party in the House were optimistic that the issue would be amicably resolved.
Meanwhile, a group, Peoples Democratic Party National Alliance Forum, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to as a matter of urgency freeze Nasarawa State government’s account to avoid looting.
The Chairman of the forum, Jacob Chume, who stated this in a statement in Lafia on Sunday, also alleged that the governor had hired protesters from the APC states.
Meanwhile, the APC leaders, who had earlier been scheduled to lead a protest march against the plan to impeach Al-Makura might have shelved the plan.
Media reports had on Sunday indicated that APC leaders, including the party’s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, would stage an anti-impeachment protest in Nasarawa on Monday (today).
But one of our correspondents learnt in Abuja, on Sunday, that the protest had been shelved due to the intervention of members of the Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers, who have joined in the search for a political solution to the crisis in the state.
A top member of APC’s National Working Committee, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said this in an interview with our correspondent.
The source confirmed that there was indeed a plan for the party’s leaders to lead a protest march in Lafia on Monday (today) but that such plan had been shelved.
He said, “I don’t think our leaders are going to Lafia for the march tomorrow. This is because the traditional rulers have intervened in the matter and they are trying to find a political solution to the crisis. We are interested in a de-escalation and peaceful resolution to the crisis.” Punch