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Dariye’s impeachment: Panel chairman boycotts inauguration

Posted by From MARIAM ALESHINLOYE AGBOOLA, Jos on 2006/10/26 | Views: 460 |

Dariye’s impeachment: Panel chairman boycotts inauguration


The impeachment plot against Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State on Wednesday received its first setback as the chairman of the seven-man panel raised by the state’s acting Chief Judge, retired Justice Yusuf Yakubu of the Sharia Court of Appeal, failed to turn up for the inauguration.

The impeachment plot against Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State on Wednesday received its first setback as the chairman of the seven-man panel raised by the state’s acting Chief Judge, retired Justice Yusuf Yakubu of the Sharia Court of Appeal, failed to turn up for the inauguration.

However, the acting Chief Judge of Plateau State, Lazarus Dakyen, went ahead and swore in six other members of the panel at his chambers even as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) declared the action as unconstitutional and barred its members from appearing before the panel.

Swearing in members of the panel, in a ceremony which did not last more than 10 minutes, Justice Dakyan explained that the chairman was indisposed and would be sworn in at a later date, adding that his absence was "a little bit of hitch".

Daily Sun, however, gathered that the absence of the retired justice might not be unconnected with the controversy surrounding the setting up of the panel.

The acting Chief Judge told the other six members of the panel that their assignment was only to investigative as no one was under trial, just as he counseled them to go about their duties with all sense of dedication. He said they were chosen due to their personal integrity, fairness and transparency; advising them to see the appointment as a national assignment, which required diligence and honesty to handle.

Justice Dakyen told members of the panel that they have a period of three months within which to investigate the allegations, and are free to invite anybody as the sitting would be open to the public, unless when the security of the panel members was being threatened.

At the end of the inauguration, he did not entertain any question, but merely chased journalists out of his chambers and threatened to deal with any of them who wrote what he did not say.
The panel was inaugurated amid tight security in and around the court premises and vehicles were not allowed to ply the road directly in front of the court.

However, the NBA has maintained that the action of the Chief Judge was unconstitutional and has called on its members to boycott the panel's sessions.

President of the association, Olisa Agbakoba, who was in Jos on Wednesday to personally deliver the association's letter to the Chief Judge, told journalists that the decision of Justice Dakyen to appoint a panel and inaugurate same when he knew that there were several legal suits concerning the matter was an abuse of the judicial process and constitution of Nigeria.

He said that it was unfortunate for the Chief Judge to inaugurate the panel based on the request of six out of the 24 members of the Plateau State House of Assembly.
Agbakoba said that members of the association would boycott the sittings of the panel because of the clear violation of the law by the acting CJ.

He blamed the gale of impeachment of state governors on judges who he said "use their position to misbehave or to issue orders that are certainly unconstitutional."

The NBA, he said, took strong exception to what he described as "judicial recklessness" by judges, stressing that the association wants to use the boycott to send strong signals to judges to the effect that the association could not afford to pretend that all is well and allow the rule of law to break down.
He directed the Plateau State chapter chairman of the association, Mr. Benson Igbanoi, to liaise with his members and the national body to ensure that no lawyer attended any sitting of the panel.

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