Enugu Impeachment: Panel locks out journalists

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By Tony Edike
ENUGU – The 7-man impeachment panel probing the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, yesterday, rescinded its decision to allow journalists to cover its proceedings as stern-looking security men stationed at the entrance to the court room denied journalists access.

The Chairman of the panel, Mr. Oraekeyi Uche Franklin had on Thursday asked journalists to leave the court, a move that was opposed by Counsel to the Deputy Go Onyebuchi, Mr. Chris Aghanwa. The panel later allowed the journalists to witness the proceedings.

But when the journalists returned for yesterday’s sitting, they were chased away from the court.

The stern-looking policemen, who were positioned at the entrance of the court said they had orders to stop journalists from coming to the place.

“Yes, you were allowed yesterday, (Thursday), but there is a fresh order that you should leave this place”, said a police sergeant who stopped the journalists at the door.

Speaking in a harsh tone, a court official said, “you people should get out of here; see the havoc you caused because you were allowed yesterday”. He was apparently referring to the media reports of the Deputy Governor’s interview after Thursday sitting.

Meanwhile, the panel continued its hearing with cross-examination of the Chief Medical Director, Government House Clinic on the poultry operated by the embattled Deputy Governor.

Also, the commissioner for Enugu Capital Territory Development, Engr. Ikechukwu Ugwuegede and the Chief Protocol Officer, Enugu Government House were expected to testify against Onyebuchi.

The Deputy Governor, who was also in the court, is expected to open his defence after the State Assembly’s witnesses.

It is unlikely whether any member of the Enugu State House of Assembly will stand as a witness against Onyebuchi as none of them has been spotted around the court.

Meanwhile, a group, the Enugu Professionals Forum (EPF) has described recent comments by Onyebuchi in response to charges leveled against him by the State House of Assembly as premature and designed to whip undeserved sentiments.

Onyebuchi had, Thursday, while briefing newsmen shortly after appearing before the impeachment panel that he was being persecuted and hinted that both the panel and the House of Assembly were also facing trial in the matter.

In a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Nebechi Ugo, the EPF said the Deputy Governor should present his defence to the charges to the panel, adding that his public comments on a matter that was still before the panel was contemptuous and designed to cast doubts on the integrity of the panel.

The EPL said that Onyebuchi was employing “an archaic and well-worn tactic” of trying to whip up sentiments instead of addressing the charges levelled against him.

The group also said that Onyebuchi was being economical with the truth in his comments which, according to it, were full of misleading facts and inaccuracies. It pointed out that Onyebuchi cannot claim that he did not know the whereabouts of the chickens removed from his poultry when the government had while embarking on the action, clearly stated that they were to be kept in a government poultry farm and would be released to him on demand.

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