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Enugu Assembly Removes Deputy Governor, Onyebuchi to Seek Redress in Court


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Nigeria

IMAGE: Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, »

August.27.2014

The embattled Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, was yesterday impeached by members of the state House of Assembly.

Onyebuchi impeachment followed the adoption of the report of the seven-man investigative panel set up by the state Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezurike, to look into the allegations of gross misconduct preferred against him by 22 out of 24 members of the assembly.

The panel reportedly found the deputy governor guilty of the allegations which bothered on abuse of office and disobedience to lawful directive by the governor, Sullivan Chime.
In a swift reaction however, the former deputy governor said he was already consulting with his lawyers on the possibility of seeking redress in court.

“It is not surprising that they took the decision. It would have been more surprising if the opposite had been done. From the time the panel sat and shut out the media and the public, it became obvious that they had hidden agenda,” he told THISDAY on the phone.

Onyebuchi was specifically accused of operating a poultry farm within the Government House for commercial purposes contrary to the Public Health Policy of the state as endorsed by the assembly.

He was also said to have refused to represent the governor at the meeting of the South-east Governors’ Forum held in Enugu as well as the formal commencement of the construction of the second Niger Bridge performed by President Goodluck Jonathan in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Moving a motion for the acceptance and adoption of the panel’s report during the assembly’s sitting yesterday, Assembly Leader, Hon. S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye, said the panel of investigation had come up with the conclusion that the “allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Onyebuchi by the assembly have been proved.”

He said his motion for the adoption of the report was predicated on the provision of Section 188 (9) of the  1999 Constitution (as amended) which stipulated that once the report was adopted with the support of two-thirds majority of members of the assembly, the holder of the office stands removed.

“Where the report of the panel is that the allegation against the holder of the office has been proved, then within 14 days of the receipt of the report, the House of Assembly shall consider the report, and if by a resolution of the House of Assembly supported by not less than two-thirds majority of all its members, the report of the panel is adopted, then the holder of the office shall stand removed from office as from the date of the adoption of the report,” the lawmaker said.

Ude-Okoye whose motion for the adoption of the panel’s report was supported by 21 other members prayed the assembly to adopt the report since the panel, after carefully reviewing the evidence presented before it both oral and documentary found Onyebuchi guilty.

His motion was seconded by the Deputy Leader of the assembly, Kelvin Ukuta.
When the motion was put to vote by the Speaker, Eugene Odoh, all the members supported it.
The only member outside the Speaker who did not append his signature on the motion was the member representing Aninri state constituency, Matthias Ekweremadu, who did not oppose the motion either.

Providing further clarification after the assembly’s sitting, the Chairman of the Committee on Information, Ukuta, said with the adoption of the report, Onyebuchi had been formally removed from office.

“The constitution is clear on this. We adopted the report which found him guilty and almost all assembly members voted in support. We surpassed the two-thirds majority as provided by the constitution,” he said.
According to him, the lawmakers were not looking forward to receiving nomination for a new deputy governor of the state from Chime “any moment from now.”

Ukuta said the impeached deputy governor was free to seek redress from the court of law if he felt his rights were infringed upon.

The former deputy governor, who spoke with THISDAY, said he would not bear any grudge or bitterness against anybody following his removal from office, noting that he would seek redress from the court of law at the appropriate time.

“There’s no leave that falls from a tree that God doesn’t know about. As I told the media earlier, I have taken my case to God and he alone knows who is just. I want to thank the people of Enugu State and indeed Nigerians for their support, prayers and encouragement while the issue lasted. This goes to show that Nigerians still have confidence in their leaders who are bold and fearless,” he said.

Meanwhile, the South-east chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the removal of Onyebuchi from office, alleging that it was politically-motivated and based on flimsy allegations.


In a press statement issued by the party’s Zonal Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, the opposition party advised the former deputy governor to contest his impeachment in court.

It noted that the allegations levelled against Onyebuchi were not strong enough to constitute gross misconduct, explaining that the constitution rates gross misconduct as grave violations of the constitution.


“His impeachment has once more confirmed that the Enugu State House of Assembly is a rubber-stamp assembly; for it is only an executive pliant and stooge legislature, which will ignobly negate the intendment of Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The APC therefore dismissed the removal as undemocratic and lacked all the ingredients of a thorough impeachment process as envisaged by the constitution.

Also, Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Fred Agbaje, has expressed sadness with the impeachment of Onyebuchi, on the grounds that Governor Sullivan Chime ought to have been impeached before now.
Agbaje, in a press statement said: “Impeachment in Nigeria had since became a tool for personal and political vendetta and thus  no longer an instrument to strengthen and deepen democracy.

“Look at the political shenanigan playing out in Enugu State where instead of the incumbent governor to be in the unemployment market through impeachment for abandoning the state and by extension abandoning his constitutional responsibilities  for almost a year  sometimes ago  without tangible constitutional reasons, it  is the same governor that is masterminding  the impeachment of his deputy.  That is d paradox that impeachment has embarrassingly become in Nigeria where political defection has become the order of day as a result of stomach infrastructural politics and corruption in governance is hitting the roof top.”  

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago
 

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Tags:     Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi     Justice Innocent Umezurike     Sullivan Chime     President Goodluck Jonathan     Hon. S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye     Kelvin Ukuta

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