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Ebonyi’s strange democracy

By Peter Okutu
Even before the courts would pronounce on the  case filed by the former speaker of the Ebonyi House of Assembly, Governor Martins Elechi led the heriarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to overturn the impeachment. What role the governor and the PDP have in sitting as umpire in an issue among House members is a wonder to many.

The crisis rocking the Ebonyi State House of As sembly took another dimension when the group supportive of the impeached speaker of the House, Chukwuma Nwazunku filed a suit at the State High Court praying the court to restrain Hon. Helen Nwobashi from parading herself as the authentic Speaker of the State House Assembly.

*Gov Elechi
*Gov Elechi

Mrs. Nwobashi was elected speaker of the House on July 21, 2014 when 18 of the 24 members of the House in an early morning meeting removed Nwazunku from office upon sundry allegations of incompetence.

Meanwhile before the suit was filed, it was gathered that Nwazunku was asked by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Governor Martin Elechi to resign to allow the House during plenary reverse the impeachment notice.

Impeachment notice

But in a dramatic twist, the governor during his recent meeting with party stalwarts insisted that Hon. Nwazunku remains the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and that he was never impeached.

But the party after a meeting with the house members told reporters that its findings showed that the Speaker was never impeached.

The party’s position was made by the state governor, Chief Martin Elechi at the party’s state secretariat in Abakaliki.

The Governor added that the decision to reinstate Nwazunku as the authentic speaker of the house is not negotiable.

His words; “Today being the eleventh day of August, 2014 exactly three weeks we woke up to hear the purported impeachment of speaker of the our House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku.

“Ever since then there have been reactions from all manner of people from, the informed, the uninformed and ill informed. We have read from the pages of the newspapers of various comments and reactions from so on and so forth.

“Therefore, we as a party, we as a government remained calm and did every thing to unravel what led to the alleged impeachment of the speaker”

“We interviewed both sides and they barred their minds and spoke frankly. On our own part, we believed that the issue that led to the alleged impeachment of the speaker were not good enough to justify any attempt of impeachment.

“We are also convinced that the allegations which the members had against him were in all respect improper and unacceptable”.

“We also realized our duty and obligation to ensure peace in Ebonyi State not of course to deny the right of the honorable house to change its leadership as at and when it deems necessary.

“But we do not appropriate blames at that stage. We simply met with our elders and principal stakeholders in PDP and in executive arm of government by extension the entire Ebonyi State

“Having considered all these and in the interest of justice, peace and fair play to prevail, we as a government, we as a party hereby state and affirm that Right Honourable Chukwuma Nwazunku was never impeached as being alleged. So he remains the Speaker of Ebonyi State Assembly and we shall continue to work with him”.

Party’s interference

But the Minority Leader of the house, Hon Enyi C. Enyi described the party’s interference in the matter as unconstitutional. “It is unconstitutional for anybody who is not the member of the house to interfere in its internal affairs”. He added that no person except court of law can declare the impeachment of Nwazunku illegal.

An Abuja-based legal practitioner, Dr. Eze Anoke Tuesday condemned Governor Martin Elechi’s verdict on the impeachment of Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku by the State House of Assembly.

In a chat with Vanguard, Anoke stated that the action of the governor was a clear manifestation that the present administration was a threat to the growth of democratic principles in the State.

According to him, Ebonyi State House of Assembly had always supported Governor Elechi on passage of bills into law, appointment and sack of commissioners and local government officers among others but wondered why Governor Elechi should become overbearing on the House members who decided to change the leadership of the State House of Assembly.

Anoke emphasized the need for governors in the country to allow House members to embark on legislative activism as such practice was necessary for the growth of democracy in the State.

“The action of the governor will not portray him in a good light before both National and International community. The constitution of the Federal Republic allows for separation of powers but this is not the case in Ebonyi state where anything goes because of the selfish interest of our parochial politicians.

“For such controversial development, it is the court of competent jurisdiction that is allowed to handle it. Governor Elechi is not the court and his verdict doesn’t hold water. If the impeached Speaker believes he has a good case, then he should allow the court to rule on the matter”.

Meanwhile, the State High Court sitting in Abakaliki would on 4th September determine whether it has the jurisdiction to entertain the case and also on the interlocutory injunction filed by the Nwazunku-led group seeking the court to restrain Hon. Helen Nwobashi from parading herself as Speaker of the State House of Assemby.

Also, the Helen-led group had also filed a suit at the State High Court sitting in Abakaliki praying the court to restrain Hon. Nwazuku from parading himself as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly.

Also, security operatives have taken over the entire House of Assembly as no House member is allowed into premises of the complex.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.