By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, Okey Ndiribe, Patience Ogbodo & Daniel Idonor
BAUCHIâ€”The lingering face-off between Bauchi State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Garba Gadi and Governor Isa Yuguda over the blunt refusal of the deputy to decamp with the governor to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, came to a climax with the impeachment of Garba by the State House of Assembly.
Both Governor Yuguda and his Deputy were elected on the platform of All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP before the governor dumped the party for PDP.
The deputy governor chose to remain in ANPP, a situation which pitched him against the governor and 17 members of the Bauchi House of Assembly who decamped with the governor to PDP.
The House of Assembly found Garba guilty of impeachable offences leveled at him in May 2009.
This followed the submission of the report of the Seven-man Investigative Panel set up by the House to probe the allegations against him.
The Majority Leader of the House, Dayyabu Chiroma who read the report for adoption reminded members of the House that the report of the panel was beyond debate as enshrined in Section 188 of the Constitution. He was duly seconded by the Deputy Majority Leader, Auwal Mohammed Jatau.
The Speaker, Babayo Garba Gamawa then called for voting by the raising of hands by members. At the end of the counting, 25 members adopted and consequently the sacking of the deputy governor in accordance with the provision of Section 188 of the Constitution. Only five members opposed while one member abstained. The House has 31 members.
The Majority Leader had read out from the report that the removed Deputy Governor was found guilty of all the allegations leveled at him with the exception of one which the House could not substantiate with any written evidence, submitting that the action of the Deputy Governor was in line with his office and so could not be penalized for it.
According to the report â€œno matter the explanation of the Deputy Governor that certain approvals were done due to exigencies could not avail the fact that there was outright negligence and disregard of the government laid down financial policies, the result of which normally creates non-challance, disregard for some norms and practices of civil service by some government officials down the ladder.â€
It then concluded that, â€œtherefore, the action of the Deputy Governor on these approvals were found by us to be ultra vires, his powers overreaching, and deliberate disregard to government policy. Therefore the allegations are proved.â€
Reacting to the impeachment, the counsel to the former deputy governor, Garba Gadi, Mamman Mike Usman (SAN) described the removal of his client as unconstitutional due to the fact that the new panel did not listen to the deputy governorâ€™s view before submitting its report.
He stated that the court which was presided over by Justice Mohammed Zango last Tuesday ordered the removal of one of the members of the panel, Ibrahim Abdulahi, who he said, was not qualified to be a member of the panel, having contested for the post of a deputy governor in the last general election under the platform of Democratic People Party (DPP) and he never resigned his membership from the party.
Usman stated further that the panel was supposed to serve his client with a notice and allowed him to respond before taking any further action, adding that the deputy governor had traveled out of the state because he was on leave and would resume on the 17th, August.
According to him â€œmy client applied for 10-day leave which was approved by the Executive Governor, Isa Yuguda. So the panel was supposed to hear from my client who will resume office next week.
While asked the next action to be taken by his client, Usman saidâ€ I can only advise my client to appeal if he asks me because he is the one aggrieved so if he tells me to appeal, I will do that.
â€œ I believe every rightful person will go on appeal because it is stigmatization. He has been accused of committing criminal offence so any responsible person will want to go upward and clear his nameâ€.
Usman expressed optimism that his client will succeed, saying â€œthe court is presently on vacation, if not I would have given you time frame over the appeal.â€
It would be recalled that the House of Assembly had served an impeachment notice on the Deputy Governor, alleging some impeachable offences which included, gross misconduct, collection of double estacode for one trip to Saudi Arabia for the2008 Hajj; giving approval for various contracts above his limit as contained in a circular to that effect.
The Deputy Governor had written a letter to the House, denying all the allegations against him, declaring that everything he did was done in the interest of the service and good governance.
Sacked Bauchi Dep. Gov, Yarâ€™Adua, Umezeoke hold talks
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua and the leadership of the All Nigerian Peoplesâ€™ Party (ANPP) led by the National Chairman, Chief Edwin Umezeoke, yesterday met behind closed doors for more than one hour in the office of the President, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The impeached Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Garuba Gadi, also attended the meeting, the outcome of which was not made public as at press time. However, speaking on the purpose of the visit, Chief Umezeoke said, â€œwe came to see the president on matters of national importance, to discuss with him because we saw that the country seems to be in serious problem.â€
Gadi vows to fight on
He spoke as the impeached Deputy Governor of Bauchi State; Gadi yesterday hinted that he will not just fold his arms over his unlawful and summary removal by the State Aassembly.
Gadi said that he was already considering the next line of action as his lawyers were looking into the issue, adding â€œthe next cause of action will be decided by my lawyers. I just got the information.â€
The former Deputy Governor who spoke to State House Correspondents in the company of the leadership of the ANPP, apparently to register their displeasure over the impeachment, declared that â€œhonestly I have no reaction and I do not bother over the impeachment I have expected it about six weeks ago. Therefore it is coming at the right time but the struggle continues.â€
Impeachment unfortunate, says Akeredolu
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in his reaction to the impeachment of the Deputy Governor of Bauchi State described the development as unfortunate.
Responding to a question as to why the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) which declared as vacant, seats of several members of the Plateau State House of Assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) to the Action Congress some years ago, Akerodolu opined that if what INEC did in Plateau State was legal, then the seats of the members of the Bauchi House of Assembly who defected along with Governor Isa Yuguda from the All Nigeria Peoples Party ( ANPP) to PDP should have also been declared vacant.
In his own reaction the former Governor of Kaduna State and Chairman of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Alhaji Balarabe Musa who himself was impeached from office as Governor in 1981 said there was nothing surprising about the development, adding that someone must have induced members of the State House of Assembly to impeach the Deputy Governor.