The embattled governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Martin Elechi has dismissed the impeachment threat by the members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly describing it as hoax.
Chief Elechi who spoke through his media aide, Dr. Onyekachi Eni in an interview says that the governor had not been served with any impeachment notice by the state lawmakers.
Your reaction on impeachment notice
There is no impeachment notice served to Governor Martin Elechi. What happened was that the state House of Assembly at on Friday last week and passed a resolution seeking to impeach the governor.
And also passed a resolution to serve the governor through courier and publication in the newspaper, that is what they resolved in the House to do which was illegal.
The constitution of Nigeria and the decision of the supreme court cases governing impeachment is that the person being accused must be served personally. Assuming that the person is invading service, you will now go to court to obtain permission to serve the person through substituted service which can be through publication in the newspaper or pasting it on wall of the person or any other means but it will be the court that will give you the authorization to do it. It will not be the House of Assembly that will pass the resolution on how to serve the person. You cannot be in the House of Assembly making laws and be the judiciary interpreting the law. The House of Assembly made the resolution. They have not served the governor in keeping with the law. They have not gone to any court to obtain permission to serve the governor through any substituted service. And, so all that we have heard about impeachment through the media.
In a governmental communication you do not act based on a rumor or what you read on the media. A number of people got concerned about what was happening and knowing that the impunity within which many members of the House of Assembly have been carrying on, people went to court to restrain them from taken the illegal steps that they planned to take An Abakakili High Court had granted an injunction restraining the State House of Assembly from carrying out any kind of impeachment against Governor Elechi even when the governor having being formally serve. But, as a precautionary measure, concerned persons now went to the court and got a formal injunction restraining the House of Assembly from taken the illegal steps which they are contemplating. Our reaction is that of calmness because the governor believe ultimately good will overcome evil, that right will overcome wrong. There is no panic whatsoever. The people were worried initially and they decided that this is their democracy and they must defend the government.
Dissolution of the House of Assembly
About forth night ago, the State House of Assembly under the speakership of Hon. Chukwuma Nwazuka said that they have vacated the seats of six members who defected to the Labour Party and we saying that under section 91 of the constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended, the minimum number that can constitute a House of Assembly is 24 and the maximum number is 40. So any House of Assembly that is less than 24 members cannot exist as a House of Assembly and if Ebonyi State House of Assembly said it has vacated the offices of six members, it means they remain 18 members which means that technically they are no longer fit to exist as a House until the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducts another bye-election to fill the vacant seats. So, even then, the action in the first place is an illegal one because these honourable members preempted them and last year December went to an Abakakili High Court restraining them from declaring their offices vacant and they were served those processes any yet they proceeded to declare the positions of the people vacant contrary to the processes served them which means that they are lawless, no respect to the judiciary. And what they are doing is act of illegality and which cannot really stand. The court in Nigeria has not given any backing to the kind of action that the members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly contemplating doing. So, in all grounds, their actions are illegal, act of provocation meant to victimize and blackmail Chief Martin Elechi because they are afraid that if he remains as a governor while the elections are conducted he will insist that free and fair elections should be conducted and due process should be followed.
And, if due process is followed they may also lose their positions given that they even got their positions to contest the election in the first place through fraudulent and undemocratic means. That is why they are afraid and want to root out the governor through another fraudulent and undemocratic process.
Governor Martin Elechi supporters defecting to the Labour Party, why?
The political crisis we are having in Ebonyi State came about from the PDP primaries last year during which the party conducted primaries to various positions across the country. Prior to that time, governor Elechi in keeping with the promise and programme of the national leadership of the party that second term governors will be allowed to produce their successors while the first governors will be gives a return ticket to contest for second term in office. In keeping with that arrangement and the governor’s desire to transit power to the Ebonyi South Senatorial zone, the governor coming from Ebonyi Central and given that Ebonyi North zone has had their turn under Governor Sam Egwu who did his second term and transited to Martin Elechi who is concluding his second term in office. With the leaders of the zone decided to show preference to the former Minister of Education, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu to succeed him. Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu resigned as a Minister to contest for the primaries but, unfortunately that decision of the governor and the political stakeholders of Ebonyi State were challenged by the Deputy Governor of the state, Engineer Dave Umahi who also had interest to contest for that position. The national officer of the party came to conduct the ward congress on November, 2014 and the field result were tampered. Governor Elechi had made it clear that the results of that congress were tampered in the house of the Secretary to Federal Government (SFG), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim in Abuja. And, what was submitted to the National Secretariat, PDP was different from what was gotten from the field and that was the beginning of the crisis. The subsequent primaries did not hold in the state. On 27thNovember 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan, his Deputy, Governor Elechi and other leadership of the party met and it was resolved that no further primaries or Congresses should take place until the problems were resolved in the affected for states, but, unfortunately again, the national secretariat went ahead and sent people to conduct primary for the House of Assembly which boycotted my Governor Elechi and the main stream PDP. The decision of the President was thwarted by some elements in PDP and eventually they allowed it to be upheld and that was the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
On December 8, 2014 the governorship primary eventually also took place, then the PDP main stream loyal to Chief Elechi felt that their democratic rights was trampled upon and they were no longer allowed to choose who will rule them and so, they defected en-massee to the Labour Party. A few of them also went to All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) but the bulk of them went to the LP.
The Governor said that he remains a member of PDP and the leader of the party in the state. He is too old to start jumping from one party to another and he will remain in the party that gave him ticket, so the governor had had not defected to any other political party. The governor and other stakeholders have not held President Jonathan responsible for the crisis in Ebonyi State PDP but the elements in the state as well as the SFG and the national leadership of the party responsible for truncating the democratic freedom to Ebonyi people. The Governor had not relented in campaigning for President Goodluck Jonathan but, he had not carried out the same campaign for the other flag bearers in PDP in the state and that was what angered the PDP gubernatorial candidate and their cohorts and they started looking for every where to get at him (governor).
Governor Elechi accusing of sponsoring Labour Party as he claims to be a PDP member.
It is balant lies. He is not supporting or sponsoring the Labour Party. He is a member of PDP. How can he sponsor the LP when he is not a member of the party. He is not even sponsoring PDP because once you become a governor, you are now the father of the state. He can campaign for any party he likes but, he cannot use government resource to sponsor even the PDP not to talk about the LP that he is not a member. For those who said that Governor Elechi s sponsoring the LP are looking for ways to blackmailing him because he had refused to campaign for other candidates of the PDP because of his outrage over the manipulation of the electoral guidelines and the constitution of the PDP guiding the selection and the election of the flag bearer. He had refused to associate himself with the products of this fraudulent congresses and primaries. The same thing is not the case with that of the President who was elected from a transparent national convention and that is why he had been campaigning for the president. It is because of the anger of those others that they are now raking up all sorts of plots and all manner of blackmails and accusations against him.
Another reason, they accused him of supporting the LP falsely is that his son is contesting election under the LP and they believed that he cannot be in PDP while his son is in the LP but, that is faulty reasoning. The beauty of democracy in the multi party plural society such as Nigeria is that anybody has the right to join any party of his or her choice. There is no law in Nigeria that says that a man and his family should belong to a particular party. The beauty of the democracy is such that even when you are of the same family, you are free to join any political party of your choice that is what is happening in Elechi’s family. And, some of the children of Elechi still remain in PDP; you cannot cohered anybody to join you in your own political party that is democracy at work.
Eight – Point allegations against Governor Elechi by the members of the State House of Assembly.
The State House of Assembly had leveled those allegations simply as a witchurt. Those allegations are politically motivated, there is no truth or substance to those allegations.
You have the people who had been with the governor and the state for almost eight years and less than 100 days to the end of eight- tenure they suddenly woke up singing songs of corruption everywhere in the state. The allegations that they are peddling are hallow. The allegations of the appointments of caretaker chairmen and coordinators of the Development Centre have no substance because as the time of those appointments there was no Hose of Assembly in terms of leadership. The House was in court because the members of the Ebonyi State of House impeached the Speaker, Hon Chukwuma Nwazuku in July last year for allegations of corruption, embezzlements and incompetence but, the governor stepped in along with other leaders of the party appealed to them to rescind their decision because the PDP primaries was fast approaching. Most of these State lawmakers hoped that they should not disobey the party so that they would get a return ticket to contest for re-election and they backed down. And, the primaries eventually started in November last year and they said that the party was not faithful to its promise to maintain a level play ground for everybody to contest for the primaries. They proceeded to revisit the allegations against the Speaker, that how he was impeached on November 10th 2014. He (Speaker) went to court and in December last year the court gave judgment in his favour and saying that the procedure for his impeachment was faulty and nobody had a choice rather than to work with him. As the time the appointments of the caretaker committee, chairmen and coordinators were made, the court had not given any judgment and the House had three Speakers which one the governor was going to deal with and as at that time it was sub judice to deal with the House of Assembly because there were multiple litigations. So being a law governing government it was not respectful to the judiciary to dabble into the matters. The Governor decided to appointed 13 Caretaker Committee Chairman in order tnot to allow vacuum in the local government system in the state. The law suit that nullified the elections of the Chairmen was not instigated by the government it was opposition elements from APC almost two years.
The Governor in obedience to court judgment allows the rule of law to prevail and appoint some of the sacked LG Chairmen as Caretaker Chairman. It was his prerogative to appoint whoever he chose as coordinator of Development Centre.
The allegation of appropriating some shares to his son, and brother inlaw, they (allegations) have cocktail of concoctions to smear his image. The Benue Cement Company was in corporated in 2009 when Ebonyi State government saw that the Nigercem, Nkalagu which initially bought by Eastern Bulkham from the BPE and later Ibeto Group brought it the company.
And none of these companies that owned the majority shares was interested in developing it. They used the company as front to get import licenses from the federal government to import cements into the country. They were not interested in developing the cement company at Nkalagu rather they were only making profits from the imports. The Ibeto group dragged the state government to court and the state government revoked the certificate of occupancy (CoFO) of the company that was the reason they went to court. At the end, the court did not fault the government action for revoking the COFO of the company.
In obedience of the requirements of the Federal Ministry of Mines, before you embarked on any mineral exploration you must have a company and license to do so. By the company and Allied Matters Act governing how companies are established you must have promoters and they must take at least one quarter of the total shareholding of that new company. When the company finally come into existence, other people will now join and some to these initial shareholders may even given up their shares that made it possible for this company to be established in the first place, but, the condition is that there must be people who must hold at least 25 percent equity in the new company and that is exactly what happened in the case of Ebonyi Cement Company. A number of businessmen from Ebonyi State took about 50 percent and the state government held back 50 percent. A number of people including his son who is also a businessman were among the people that had the 50 percent. And, there is nothing wrong with the arrangement because it was not the first company that the state government invests some amount without owing h company as w whole.
For instance, in Nigercem Company, Ebonyi state governments only hold 10 percent while the remaining 90 percent shares were on the hands of private investors.
Even in the Ebonyi Power Plant under the PDP arrangement with an American construm, the state government held 20 percent equity share in the company while 80 percent in the hands of private investor. They didn’t see any of these being wrong until the political crisis, erupted in the state, and they now see reasons that Elechi son is holding shares in the company and it has became an impeachment offence.