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Enugu Assembly Begins Impeachment Process against Deputy Governor

News » Politics


The gale of impeachment blowing across the nation’s political landscape hit Enugu State yesterday when the state’s House of Assembly formally commenced impeachment proceedings against the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, who was accused of gross misconduct in the performance of his functions.

In a sitting that lasted less than an hour, the lawmakers passed a motion directing the Clerk of the House, Christopher Chukwurah, to serve the embattled deputy governor the impeachment notice.

The session, which was attended by all the lawmakers and presided over by the Speaker, Hon. Eugene Odoh, saw 22 out of the 24 legislators endorsing the impeachment notice against the deputy governor.

The speaker, the only member representing Aninri Constituency and Hon. Mathias Ekweremadu, the younger brother of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, did not sign the impeachment notice.
The speaker, however, did not oppose the notice when the six-page document sponsored by the House Leader, Hon. Udeh Okoye, was read and adopted.

The motion for the adoption of the Notice of Impeachment was moved by Okoye and seconded by the Deputy Leader, Hon. John Ukuta.
The two-point allegations levelled against the deputy governor bordered on abuse of office and disobedience of the lawful directives of Governor Sullivan Chime.

The house in the notice alleged that the deputy governor had between February 2013 and February 2014 wrongfully deployed the resources of his office and exercises the powers thereof to resist and ridicule the implementation of the Public Health Policy of the state.

Onyebuchi was accused of violating the resolution of the House, which prohibits the maintenance and operation of commercial livestock and poultry farms within residential neighbourhoods in Enugu metropolis in promotion of public health standards.

“Notwithstanding the said resolution, he continued to maintain and operate a commercial poultry farm within the premises of his official residential quarters and further refused to carry out the directives of the relevant officials of the government who visited his premises to monitor compliance with the resolution.

“When the government relocated the birds and cleared the premises of the noxious stench emanating therefrom, he wrongfully deployed the resources and powers of his office to invite the press and openly castigated the government and his officials, thereby impugning and denigrating the authority and office of the governor and embarrassing the government,” they alleged.

On disobedience to lawful directives, he was accused of habitually refusing, failing and neglecting to carry out or perform the functions of his office as directed by the governor pursuant to section 193 (1) of the constitution without any excuse.

He was specifically accused of not attending the commencement ceremony of the construction of the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha by President Goodluck Jonathan on March 11, 2014, as well as the meeting of the South-east Governors' Forum, which held at the Enugu Government House on Sunday 6, July 2014 despite the express directives of the governor to represent him at both functions.

“The Deputy Governor persists in his defiance or lawful directives issued to him by the governor, which has adversely affected and will continue to affect the smooth running of the government and he will continue to do so if not removed from office,” the notice read.

Speaking shortly after directing the Clerk to serve the impeachment notice on the deputy governor, the speaker said further debate on the document would be made when the deputy governor formally responds to the allegations against him in the spirit of fair hearing.

As at the time of filing this report, the deputy governor was said to have travelled to Abuja, apparently to meet with prominent indigenes of the state to see the possibility of lobbying his way out of his present predicament.

All members of the House belong to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as well as the governor and the deputy.
However, in a swift reaction to the impeachment notice served on his deputy, Governor Sullivan Chime yesterday said he had given the deputy governor the option of resigning from his position before the commencement of the impeachment proceedings against him by the House of Assembly.

Speaking exclusively with THISDAY on telephone, Chime said before the problem between him and his deputy blew open, he had tolerated a whole lot from him all in a bid to protect “our common family, called the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.

He said rather than possibly accept the option of resigning and show remorse over his activities, the deputy governor remained defiant.
He said his deputy had severally engaged in acts aimed at undermining him as a governor, but he decided to turn a blind eye to his activities in the overall interest of the state.

He also noted that only recently, the deputy governor had assembled some council chairmen and warned them not to take instructions from him (governor) since “I had barely one year to leave office”.

“By the time I open my mouth, everybody will be shocked to know what has been happening between my deputy and I in the past years. It has actually come to a point where we need to know who is actually the boss because we can no longer work together.

“Let the House of Assembly do their job and see if indeed he is fit to remain as the deputy governor of the state. How can I ask my deputy to represent me in a meeting of the South-east Governors' Forum where the deputy governors of Anambra represented his governor; I think the deputy governor of Imo State also represented his governor and my own chose to go and play football saying that he was not informed,” he said.

He also dismissed insinuations that the impeachment proceedings had anything to do with the deputy governor's rumoured senatorial ambition for Enugu East senatorial seat.

“What's the link? We are saying he has refused to do his work and even had to tell me to my face that what is happening to him is because of his ambition. My brother, let me tell you clearly that it has no link. He has been going round Abuja telling people all manners of things, but by the time I open up, Nigerians will know that nobody else could take what I've taken from him,” he said.
Meanwhile, worried that the gale of impeachment is unsettling the polity, PDP has cautioned its legislators against joining the impeachment bandwagon.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP has never been involved in any impeachment process and we wish to publicly urge our members in all the state houses of assembly to thread with caution and be guided by due process and rule of law in the execution of their legislative duties.

“We are bold to claim that nobody on either side of the divide in Nasarawa State can claim the involvement of the presidency or that of our national leadership in the impeachment saga.  The PDP challenges the leadership of the APC to produce any corroboration of this allegation within the Government of Nasarawa State. The Governor of Nasarawa State has never and can never lay claim to the complicity of the presidency and the PDP leadership in this matter. Why then are these uninvited guests crying more than the bereaved?

“On the issue of impeachment in Adamawa and similar developments in other states, we hereby restate our respect for the principle of separation of powers”, he said.

Speaking on the letter by the former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and other condemnations by Nigerians against the gale of impeachments going on in the various states, Metuh said: “These leaders have taken turns, in quick succession, in their vicious condemnation of the leadership of the country is not a mere coincidence. Nigerians suspect and we stand to be corrected that these pronouncements are not in vain but part of the larger plot to build a groundswell of negativity with the ultimate aim of truncating our hard earned democracy.

“We are therefore not puzzled that the common denominators of these orchestrated statements are weighty but baseless accusations against the federal government and the ruling party on the health of our democracy and the unity of the country. However, a catalogue of events involving these politicians and their political party indicate that they are the real causative agents of the issues they accuse the federal government and the PDP of.”

According to Metu, “Just a few months ago, the APC was basking in the euphoria of their merger as well as their ‘illusioned’ dominance of the Nigerian political space and saw nothing wrong in the democratic institutions and the processes. It is therefore hypocritical that the same APC has turned around in condemnation simply because they are currently suffering a self-inflicted reversal of fortune.”

Speaking further, the PDP National Publicity Secretary said: “While it is simplistic for the APC to harp on perceived infractions or failings of the PDP, they conveniently ignored the fact that their actions and inactions pose the greatest threat to democracy. This brings us to the question: ‘who actually is threatening democracy in this country’?”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Enugu     Gale of Impeachment     Governor Sullivan Chime     Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi     Christopher Chukwurah     Hon. Mathias Ekweremadu     Hon. Udeh Okoye     Hon. John Ukuta