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Inibehe Effiong: Impeachment of Enugu State Deputy Governor and the politics of madness

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The ongoing impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor of Enugu State, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, by the State House of Assembly, ostensibly on the orders of the governor, Mr Sullivan Chime, is yet another evidence of the madness embedded in our political milieu. It shows that our States Houses of Assembly are under subjugation. It has also exposed the nauseating dirtiness, crass moral destitution, unpardonable senselessness and disgusting slavishness of the members of the Enugu State House of Assembly.

Despite growing public outrage against the satanic and immoral move, the House on Thursday, 31 July, 2014 went ahead to direct the State Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezurike, to constitute a panel to investigate the baseless allegations they levelled against the deputy governor.

The twin allegations against the deputy governor are not just provocatively trivial but utterly frivolous. Firstly, he is accused of maintaining a poultry farm in his official residence contrary to a resolution of the House prohibiting the maintenance of and operation of commercial livestock and poultry farms within residential neighbourhood in Enugu Metropolis. Secondly, he is accused of defying the governor’s directive to represent him at occasions which they claim violates Section 193 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

On the first charge, the deputy governor has replied that he came and met an area in his official residence designated as ‘Agricultural Unit’, which includes a poultry farm, and whose facilities were installed by the first premier of Eastern Nigeria and that all his predecessors used it and maintained the poultry farm. Interestingly, he alleged that the governor equally operates a much bigger poultry farm within his official residence.

On the second charge, Mr Onyebuchi in his reply to the notice of impeachment had this to say inter alia:

“Let me start by saying that on June 9, 2014, the Governor commenced his 2014 annual vacation. This was made public through various news media. He did not tell me to take any action on his behalf pending his return, and I am not aware that he sent a formal letter to the Enugu State House of Assembly informing the assembly that he was proceeding on vacation. The governor did not tell me to take any action on his behalf pending his return, neither did he tell me that he would pass instructions to me through a third party. I did not receive instructions from him personally, by phone or in writing asking me to represent him at the meeting of the South East Governors Forum that took place in Enugu on July 6, 2014.

“I did not have any reason not to represent him if he had so instructed me to do so. I do not think it is appropriate for a deputy governor to act in the absence of the governor deriving authority from a subordinate or based on press release to the effect that the governor handed over to his deputy.

“When the governor resumed duty after his vacation, I represented him at various occasions even after he had asked me to resign. On Friday July 18, I represented the governor at the inauguration of the Power Training Institute at Oji River with the. Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu. On Monday, July, 21 while my impeachment notice was being signed by the members of the state House of Assembly at Government House, Enugu, I was at Udi representing the governor at the inauguration of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Academy at Udi with the then Corp Marshall, Osita Chidoka…”

Now the pertinent question is; has Mr Onyebuchi committed any gross misconduct within the meaning and contemplation of Section 188 (2) & (11) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to warrant his removal by the State House of Assembly? The answer is obviously in the negative.

On the first charge, the House of Assembly is arrogating to itself powers it does not have by seeking to punish the deputy governor for purportedly violating her resolution. Under the present constitutional regime as enshrined in Sections 58 (1) & 100 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the legislative powers of both the National and States Assemblies are only exercisable by Acts and Laws passed by the National and States Assemblies respectively.

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