Ebonyi Assembly serves Governor Elechi impeachment notice

Martin ElechiThe Ebonyi State House of Assembly on Friday served an impeachment notice on Governor Martin Elechi over what it described as gross misconduct.

A motion for the notice to be served on the governor was approved after acting Majority Leader of the House, Francis Nwifruru, read details accusing Elechi of undermining the integrity of the House and carrying out fraudulent acts.

Elechi has however accused Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, and National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Olisa Metuh, of masterminding the impeachment plot against him.

The Ebonyi Assembly had on February 18 set up a panel to investigate allegations of financial misappropriation against the governor and some of his aides.

The Assembly took the decision following petitions it received from groups in the state, including Ebonyi Integrity Group.

In one of the petitions, the embattled governor, his son, Elechi Elechi, and Edward Nkwegu, among others, were accused of contract inflation and illegal use of state funds for private gains.

Before the probe panel was constituted, the House Leader, Ikechukwu Ogbu, had read the petitions written against the governor on the floor of the Assembly.

The petitions were adopted through a motion sponsored by Ogbonnaya Nwifuru, a member representing Izzi West State constituency.

In his contribution, the Minority Leader, Enyi Enyi, described the allegations against Mr. Elechi as shocking, adding that the governor risked impeachment if found guilty.

Other lawmakers who spoke that Wednesday urged the Assembly to invoke all its constitutional powers to deal with the issue.

They, however, pointed out that those accused would be given the opportunity to defend themselves before the House takes necessary action.

Shortly after debates on the petitions were concluded, the Speaker, Chukwuma Nwazunku, called for a voice vote and members unanimously agreed that the governor be investigated.

The Assembly, thereby, set up a special panel headed by Odefa Odefa, a member representing Onicha South, to further investigate the allegations and report its findings to the Assembly.

The Speaker noted that the essence of the special committee was to do a thorough investigation on the weighty allegations against the governor.

Apparently aware of the thickening plot to oust him, Mr. Elechi had told members of Ezza Ezzekuna Youth Congress, who paid him a solidarity visit at the government house in Abakaliki, that top politicians were holding meetings to remove him from office.

“I want to bring to your notice that some politicians who have vowed to govern this state at all cost have been holding secret meetings on how to impeach me,” the governor said.

“They said I’m a bad person and that if I continue to remain in power they will not have their way of ruling the state. All I can say is that if they sack me, I will relocate to my home.”

He called on the youth not to allow the state be taken over by desperate politicians who do not have their interest at heart.

Mr. Elechi asked the youth to be vigilant and resist any attempt to use them to stoke crisis which would not bring any good to the state.

The move on Friday, to serve the governor an impeachment notice, came after the House completed its investigation.

Addressing journalists at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House Abakaliki, Elechi alleged that Anyim, Secondus, Metuh and others within and outside the state offered financial inducement to the lawmakers to impeach him.

He said that the Anyim had earlier during a national caucus meeting of PDP at Abuja moved a motion for his impeachment on the allegation that he was working against the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, and that he had been meeting with former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako.

While denying ever meeting with Obasanjo, whom he described as an in-law of Ebonyi, or Nyako, whom he said he saw last during an expanded national executive council meeting of PDP before the former Adamawa governor was impeached, Elechi asserted that it was Anyim and his likes, through their divisive activities, that were diminishing Jonathan’s campaign effort in the state.

“I mentioned this one of Anyim’s motion (at PDP caucus meeting) because it has come to the public domain. I was to be in that meeting but the notice came less than 24 hours and I had billed myself for other things, so I didn’t attend. I’m relying now on the publications of various papers and other things I hear about Anyim. I didn’t exhaust all of them like his effort to stop the bond which we are eminently qualified for, he tried that but he failed.

“It is interesting for Nigerians to know that the decision to impeach the governor preceded the finding of justifiable reasons to do so. It is simply the case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

“The legislator must be convinced that an impeachment is justifiable

before he or she can consent to it. But because there have been no justifiable reasons, many honourable members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly received threat messages to either append their signatures or risk assassination and/or a kidnap of their family members.

“Others are coerced from the national headquarters of the PDP to give their bank particulars so that money will be paid into them. The accused agents in this regard are, respectively, Uche Secondus and Olisa Metuh. In consequence of the foregoing many honourable members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly have either fled the state or are in hiding,” he alleged.

Elechi blamed his ordeal on the controversy surrounding the PDP primaries of November/December 2014, which he said led to large number of members moving to the Labour Party (LP), even as he reiterated his earlier stand that nobody can beat a child and stop him from crying.

He said that the Anyim had been using federal power to terrorise his administration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) who arrested and detained state government officials and his son and eventually froze the Ebonyi State/Local Government Joint Account, even before the conclusion of their investigation.

Elechi said he was supposed to be the chairman of Jonathan campaign committee in the state but was denied materials including TAN rice and N80 million which he said was paid into the personal account of former Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu.