*APC kicks, says notice based on flimsy excuses
By Tony Edike
ENUGU— Enugu State House of Assembly, yesterday, commenced impeachment proceedings against the state deputy governor, Chief Sunday Onyebuchi, who was accused of gross misconduct and disobedience to the lawful directives of Governor Sullivan Chime.
However, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state has described reasons for the impeachment as flimsy. The impeachment notice signed by 22 of the 24 members of the House was read at plenary yesterday.
Only the Speaker of the House, Mr. Eugene Odoh, and the member representing Aninri constituency and younger brother to the Deputy Senate President, Mr. @Matthias Ekweremadu, did not sign the six-page impeachment notice.
The Assembly, however, directed its Clerk, Mr. Christopher Chukwurah, to serve the deputy governor the impeachment notice within seven days. The speaker, Mr. Odoh, presided over the brief session convened primarily to deliberate on the impeachment notice.
The motion was presented by leader of the House, Mr. S. K. E. Udeokoye, who also sponsored it.
The allegations levelled against the Deputy Governor included running a poultry farm in his official residence, which had been undergoing reconstruction since 2012, but had long been abandoned, and his alleged refusal to represent the governor at two official functions in Enugu and Onitsha.
The impeachment notice presented by Udeokoye reads: “In the exercise of the powers vested in the Enugu State House of Assembly by Section 188(1) – (9) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling the Enugu State House of Assembly in that behalf;
“We the undersigned members of the Enugu State House of Assembly append our names and signatures to this Notice of Allegation of Gross Misconduct in the Performance of the Functions of the Office of Deputy Governor against the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi.
“The Deputy Governor is guilty of various acts of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office as the Deputy Governor of Enugu State. The particulars of gross misconduct are as follows: “Between February 2013 and February 2014 the Deputy Governor wrongfully deployed the resources of his office and exercised the powers thereof to resist and ridicule the implementation of a public health policy of the Government of Enugu State of Nigeria and thereby abused his office as follows:
“By a resolution of the Enugu State House of Assembly at its plenary on Tuesday,
February 12, 2013, the Enugu State House of Assembly prohibited the maintenance and operation of commercial livestock and poultry farms within residential neighbourhoods in Enugu metropolis in promotion of public health standards; which resolution was further accepted by the Government for implementation.
“Notwithstanding the said resolution, the Deputy Governor 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 official premises to monitor compliance with the said resolution.
“Consequent upon the intimidation of the relevant officials of the Government by the Deputy Governor in respect of the matter aforesaid, the Governor of Enugu State via letters with reference numbers: GHE/CAO/31/239 and GHE/CAO/31/240 dated 24/12/2013 and 27/12/2013, respectively, directed the Deputy Governor to relocate the commercial poultry farm out of the premises of his official residential quarters, which is also within the general premises of the Government House, Enugu, and adjacent to the Governor’s office.
“The Deputy Governor further defied the directive herein, and in a most discourteous manner and in utter disregard of the office of the Governor, responded via his letter dated 8/1/2014, insisting that he would not relocate his commercial poultry farm from the premises of his official residential quarters.
“When the Government through the appropriate ministries and departments relocated the birds and cleared the premises of the noxious stench emanating therefrom, the Deputy Governor wrongfully deployed the resources and powers of his office as Deputy Governor to invite the press and openly castigated the Government and her officials, thereby impugning and denigrating the authority and office of the Governor, and embarrassing the Government.”
The lawmakers further alleged that the Deputy Governor “habitually refuses, fails and or neglects to carry out and or perform the functions of his office as directed by the Governor pursuant to Section 193(1) of the Constitution without any excuse.”
They cited such manifest breaches of the constitution to include his alleged refusal to carry out the directive of the Governor to represent him at the flag-off ceremony of the construction of the second Niger Bridge in Onitsha by President Goodluck Jonathan on March 11, and at the South-East Governors Forum held in Enugu on Sunday, July 8 “despite the express directive of the Governor to represent him at the Forum.
“The Deputy Governor persists in his defiance of lawful directives issued to him by the Governor, which defiance 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.”
Dep Gov’s camp
The deputy governor could not be reached for his reaction to the impeachment notice, yesterday, but one of his aides said that he (Onyebuchi) would react formally to the notice at the appropriate time. His aide said: “I can tell you that the Deputy Governor has repeatedly given clear explanations to these issues which I think were not the main reason for trying to remove him from office.”
Meanwhile, APC, South-East zone has described the alleged impeachable offences brought against Onyebuchi as flimsy and appealed to the House to withdraw the “flimsy petitions” forthwith.
The party, in a statement by its chieftain in the zone, Chief Osita Okechukwu, said: “We have made a close study of the allegations such as disobedience to the directive prohibiting the maintenance of commercial livestock in residential quarters and disobedience of lawful directive to represent the governor in the South-East Governors Forum and the flag-off of the second Niger Bridge.
“Whereas, we are not holding brief for Chief Onyebuchi, APC South-East is of the candid view that the items listed are flimsy allegations; therefore we appeal to the House to withdraw the flimsy petitions forthwith.
“Consequently, we call on the Governor to call the House to order, to maintain the harmonious and peaceful atmosphere that subsist in Enugu for which we praise him;. We can see the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.”
“We are making this appeal not only for the sustenance of our fledgling democracy, but in the collective interest of the good people of Enugu State.”