Governor Sullivan Chime and the Enugu State of Assembly are quarrelling over impeachment of the former which has divided the legislators in the state into two factions
| By Anayo Ezugwu | May 18, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
LEGISLATORS in the Enugu State of Assembly are quarrelling over the move to impeach Governor Sullivan Chime which has led to the emergence of two factions. On Monday, May 4, 14 lawmakers, led by Eugene Odoh, speaker of the House, commenced the process of impeaching Governor Chime over what they described as alleged gross misconduct. The Odoh-led faction had directed Christopher Chukwurah, clerk of the House, to serve the governor with the notice of impeachment. They accused the governor of allegedly forging the 2012 supplementary budget running into billions. Other impeachable offences listed against the governor included the alleged inflation of the contract sum for the construction of the new state secretariat complex from N13 billion to N21 billion without recourse to the House of Assembly, award of the contract to Arab Contractors Limited even when another contractor submitted a lower bid, as well as using the police to deny the lawmakers’ access to the Assembly for their sitting.
The lawmakers had complained that the governor was using some legislators to disrupt the activities of the assembly and undermine their interest following their refusal to approve the N11 billion loan requested by the governor. They also suspended three members including Chime Oji, deputy speaker, Emeka Ogbuabor and John Ukuta, deputy House Leader, for alleged anti-assembly activities.
But the action of the faction was, however, countered by a group of nine lawmakers led by Chime Oji, deputy speaker of the House, who not only announced the impeachment of the Odoh and sacking of S.K.E. Ude-Okoye, majority leader of the House, but also suspended them along with seven other members. Apart from electing Chinedu Nwamba, as the new Speaker, the faction also appointed, Donatus Uzoagbado and Emeka Ogbuabo as the new majority leader and chief whip, respectively. They also went ahead to recall Johnbul Nwagu, who was suspended by the House about two weeks ago, while also de-freezing the accounts of the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, ENSUBEB, which was frozen by the assembly two weeks ago.
Realnews investigations have showed that most of the lawmakers in the Odoh-led faction are those who have served two-terms as members of the House. They are fighting the Governor for denying them the ticket to return to the House for the third time. Governor Chime also alleged that the lawmakers doesn’t have the interest of the state at heart.
The governor on Monday, May 4, boasted that the State Assembly could impeach him because the Odoh-led faction of the State House of Assembly and 13 others whom, he described as clowns, allegedly demanded money from him, adding that the fight was all about money. He said members of the Assembly are fighting a lost battle as he would not be impeached since there were processes that would lead to the impeachment of a governor which the faction would never achieve in their bid to remove him.
“The office of governor is not like that of the Speaker that you can blow siren to the office and go home on Okada (commercial motorcycle). They are not aware of the constitutional provisions relating to impeachment. Let me use this word stupid. I have been hearing all sorts of things as reasons for their recent attacks on my lieutenants, heads of departments and commissioners since last month or so. They called them and were questioning them on all sorts of things that happened even in my first tenure. Their dream impeachment will never see the light of day.
“I want my defence to see the light of day. The office of Governor is a very serious office. You do not just wake up one morning and you start thinking of impeachment. The section of the constitution that deals with impeachment is 188. It deals with how the governor or deputy will be removed from office. At least one-third of the House is required to sign a notice of allegations of gross misconduct against the holder of the office. So, the House has 24 members. Eight of them are expected to sign that notice.
“Under subsection two, the Speaker is expected to have received the notice of allegation, cause a copy of that notice to be served on me within seven days. After they have gone through that hurdle; within 14 days of presentation of the notice to the Speaker, the House is enjoined to pass a resolution, stating that the allegation should be investigated. I am referring to sub-section three. The Speaker must get the House, to resolve through a motion, the resolution which must be supported by two-thirds of its members. That is sub-section four.
“And it must be by all members of the House. So all this talk about suspension of House members is nonsense and as long as you are a member, you must be part of this. So, two-thirds of all the members, in our case are 16. I am not quite sure they know what they are doing. I do not know the stage they are in now. Is it the stage of presenting the allegation or what? The constitution requires two-third to pass the resolution. Nobody has served me the notice of allegation. By their own showing, they are 14 members including the Speaker who should not be counted. So they are 13. That is why they have not activated anything.
“They need 14 days to get the notice of allegation from its members. When that happens, they will require another seven days to pass the resolution. If they are successful, the Chief Judge will be enjoined by the Speaker to constitute a seven-man panel and submit its report within three months. So, I am not quite sure if they are investigating me or the incoming governor. Because before they even set up the panel, I am out of this place.
“That is the stupidity and folly of what they have set out to do. They are all looking for money which I do not have. Fourteen of them cannot activate this process. No Chief Judge will listen to them. The allegation of forgery in the 2012 budget of N12 billion is false. The supplementary budget of 2012 was revised. Money was re-allocated for certain projects and no extra money was incurred. I am not quite sure they know the meaning of forgery. The allegation of forgery came to me as a rude shock.
“The N11billion loan they are talking about was approved by the House in November last year. The resolution approving the loan was dated November 13, 2014. The resolution authorised me to borrow the money from United Bank of Africa, UBA, to re-finance part of the loan from Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB. I excitedly endorsed the resolution and passed it to the commissioner for finance. It is the same bunch of clowns that are now going round telling the world that few weeks to my exit I am going around borrowing money when they had approved it. We had immediately drawn down the money. What went wrong was that UBA later said that they needed an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order, ISPO.
“We issued it to them and they said they needed the House of Assembly to endorse that also. We told the bank that it is the executive that will pay the money that they do not need the House endorsement of the ISPO. And that was resolved. Somewhere along the line, the House felt that the administration was coming to an end, that it was time to make money out of it. The House leadership came requesting for money. The leadership of the House came to me shamelessly and asked me to give them money. That it was the agreement of the House. The Speaker confirmed the House’s stand. I told them I will not be part of it. Whatever they are doing is all about money,” he said.
Reacting to Governor Chime’s allegations, Odoh said the governor is lying against the members of the House. “Chime is the most frustrated human being on earth. He is using the Commissioner of Police to intimidate us and withdraw our security personnel. Why should a man who is occupying an exalted position of governor lie? Chime is lying. Let him tell the people of the state whether I have asked for any contract from him since I became the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Let him tell the world the personal demands we have made from him.
“We are not indigents. There are several ways of making money in government. Let him (Chime) tell the world whether he has approved any special travel abroad or any personal favours for me. If we were greedy, we would have approved the loan for him and asked for our share. He said he paid us half salary in February out of pity. That shows the impunity we are talking about. Is it a personal favour to pay us our salaries? Is it his personal money? What he is saying is that he deliberately denied us our rights. In a democracy, the Legislature has the responsibility to make laws while Executive implements such laws. Is he saying that because it is the responsibility of the Executive to pay us salaries that he is now doing us a special favour? He should stop lying to the people,” he said.
To make peace, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor-elect of the state, has called on the two factions of the state assembly to sheath their swords and return to status quo for the amicable resolution of the contending issues. It is reported that the meeting, which held behind closed doors on Tuesday, May 5, in Enugu, was attended by members of the two groups as well as a former senate president.
Realnews gathered that prominent sons of the state were also making efforts to resolve the impasse so that the good works recorded by the administration in the past eight years would not be rubbished by the crisis. Meanwhile, some Enugu residents have called on the lawmakers and the governor to put the interest of the state above any other interest so that the incoming administration would not inherit crisis.
Simon Okechukwu, Enugu based politician, told Realnews that the allegations against Governor Chime by the 14 members of the House are baseless and barefaced lies to deceive the good people of Enugu State. “This crisis was borne out of malice and mischief. This House had in November last year approved the said N11 billion and conveyed their approval to His Excellency, Sullivan Chime. I have told many of my friends that the problem was not about approving of N11 billion funds meant for the finishing up the New Secretariat but it was all about gratifications, which as much as I know our Governor, won’t want anything that will spoil his hard earned name in Enugu State. I believe due process has been his watch word. Please, let the Enugu State Elders Council look into these allegations. Let us also thank the Almighty God for the gift of Sullivan Chime to the good people of Enugu State,” he said. As the blame game continues, Nigerians and indeed the world are watching.