NASARAWA State lawmakers on Thursday proceeded with their moves to remove the state governor, Tanko Al-Makura, by levelling against him 16 charges bordering on alleged official gross misconduct.
The charges by the state House of Assembly include missing local government joint account funds between June 2011 and April 2012; and from January to July, 2013.
The impeachment notice said the alleged offences amounted to gross violation of section 162 (7 and 8) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
The impeachment notice was signed by 20 out of the 24 members of the assembly.
Al-Makura alleged offences, according to the House, also include misappropriation/misapplication of funds in local government joint account and local government SURE-P Fund as well as transfer of local government Sure-P Fund to a fixed deposit account.
The governor is also being accused of spending N13, 205,000 on his wife’s trips to Abuja.
Unlike the case of the impeached ex-Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, Al-Makura’s accusers had been facing stiff opposition by groups in the state.
The protests commenced on Wednesday by some youths in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, continued on Thursday with angry youths in their thousands setting on fire a house said to belong to a man from the Eggon tribe in the state.
Al-Makura is of Gwandera ethnic extraction, which is one of the smallest ethnic groups in the state.
The house that was razed was said to have on its walls several campaign posters of the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who is an Eggon man.
Two persons were said to have been killed during the Thursday protest.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ismaila Numaan, confirmed the protests and the burning of the house but he said he was not aware that two persons died.
The police spokesman said the building was set ablaze in the early hours of Thursday.
Also on Thursday, a coalition of women groups comprising the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, Christian Association of Nigeria, Women Wing and Women of Nasarawa State, Mothers of Nasarawa State and Women for Change, Nasarawa State, protested the impeachment moves against the governor.
Coordinator of the women groups, Hajiya Hajara Danyaro, slammed the Nasarawa lawmakers’ action.
Danyaro said that women in the state voted for the lawmakers on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party and voted governor Al-Makura on the platform of All the Progressives Congress and that the action of the legislators was uncalled for.
Danyaro accused the PDP of masterminding the impeachment move. She said the impeachment move coincided with the visit of President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday to inaugurate Ola Rice Farm at Rukubi in the Doma Local Government Area of the state.
The APC had on Wednesday similarly accused Jonathan of being behind the removal of Nyako, saying the removal of the Adamawa governor was part of the President’s ‘desperate’ plan to win re-election in 2015.
In a quick response, however, the Presidency same Wednesday denied having hands in the removal of Nyako and described the opposition party’s accusations as lacking in substance.
Coordinator of the Nasarawa women accused the Presidency of stealing over N18bn and described lawmakers in the state as ‘‘armed robbers.’’
The women, who took their protest from the Lafia City Hall to the Government House, said allegation of gross misconduct was more glaring in the Aso Rock Villa and urged the Presidency not to meddle in the affairs of the state and to avoid causing an uprising in the state.
A former member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Mary Nwogulu, condemned the action of the House, which she described as embarrassing.
According to her, Al-Makura has done a lot for the people of the state and wondered why the lawmakers could plot evil against the governor.
She appealed to the lawmakers to have a rethink and shelve the impeachment move in the interest of peace, unity and development in the state.
Also, the people of Doma Central, Doma South, Wamba and Akwanga West and Akwanga North and Keana and Kokona East said they had commenced the process to recall their members over the moves to sack Al-Makura.
The people in a report monitored on the state radio, Nasarawa Broadcasting Service, said they had commenced collation of signatories from constituents in the named areas to be forwarded to INEC for verification.
But the state lawmakers on Thursday said they could not be intimidated by anybody and that they would proceed with the impeachment process.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Information and Security, Mr. Baba Ibaku, told The PUNCH in Lafia that the impeachment procedure remained on course.
“We are on course and he (the governor) will be served the impeachment notice through the media today (Thursday),” Ibaku said.
He said the major issue contained in the impeachment notice should be discussed rather than dwelling on unimportant issues.
The lawmaker advised the governor to come out and clear himself of allegations of financial misappropriation and abuse of public service.
There have been protests in the Keffi, Karu and Lafia local government areas of the state as some youths show their anger against the move of the House to serve a notice of impeachment on Al-Makura.
Ismiala confirmed the protests but he said that the police had dismissed the protesters.
He added that the police had embarked on patrol in areas where protesters took to the street. Ismaila cautioned the people of the state against being lawless.
A member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Tanko Tunga, said that not all lawmakers in the House were given the notice of impeachment.
Tunga, in an interview with journalists in Lafia on Thursday, said that all members of the House ought to be given the impeachment notice.
The lawmaker, who is representing Tunga constituency on the platform of the APC, said that anything that would prevent Al-Makura from coming back in 2015 would be a sin.
He described the attitude of his colleagues who were pushing for impeachment of the governor as brazen.
“My people are of the opinion that anybody trying to remove the man from office is a sinner,” Tunga stated.