Enugu State governor, Barr Sullivan Chime, has described the attempt by a faction of the state House of Assembly led by the speaker, Eugene Odoh, and 14 others to commence impeachment moves against him as an exercise in futility.
Chime, who spoke on Monday night, described as false the insinuations in some quarters that he had been served the purported impeachment notice.
The governor said, rather, he had received communication from the Clerk of the House, Christian Chukwurah to the effect that a leadership change had taken place in the assembly with Hon. Chinedu Nwamba emerging as the new speaker.
According to him, the move by the group of 15 lawmakers did not comply with the provisions of section 188 of the nation’s constitution which deals with how a governor or deputy governor can be removed from office.
He described the action, which is coming about three weeks to the end of his tenure, as not only mischievous but also malicious.
“Looking at the provisions of the constitution, they have clearly not complied with it. By the time they have the required number to articulate the allegations against me, the speaker is required by law to, within seven days, cause a notice to be served on me. Sitting in the early hours of Monday to me was rubbish. I’ve not been served any notice of allegations, which simply means they’ve not activated any action yet.
“More so, with the spate of suspensions and counter-suspensions, I don’t think they can even get the required two-thirds. What this simply means is that the matter is dead on arrival. By the time you look through the constitution, you will discover the number of months it will take them to carry out that exercise. Maybe, I am not really the one they are going to investigate. Perhaps, they are looking at the incoming government because by May 29, I will be out of this place. That is the folly in what they have set out to do.
“In their desperation, they overlooked due process. I can easily see what they are doing as a failed bid to investigate the governor. I’ve taken time to give these details because by tomorrow now, you will hear that the Chief Judge has refused to set up a panel. Let them hear it now that no CJ will listen to them,” he said.
Reacting to the alleged forgery of the 2012 supplementary budget to the tune of N12 billion, Chime dismissed the lawmakers’ claims and explained that all the budgets of the state, from the inception of his administration till date, were public document.
Chime pointed out that in their haste to cast aspersions on him, the legislators forgot that he was not in the state from September 2012 till February 2013 when the said budget was approved by the House.
He said he was ready to defend his actions as governor of the state at any time he was called upon, declaring that his administration had not, in any form, siphoned or embezzled any public fund since he came into office.
“The speaker and the House leader wanted to be governor and deputy governor respectively, and because they failed in their bid, they have decided to resort to blackmail; all the allegations they are brandishing have to do with money. Tell them that I will not give them any money and I wish them luck in their dream to impeach me,” he said.
The governor dismissed claims that the reported N11 billion loan request was to serve as his parting gift as governor, explaining that the lawmakers had in November last year approved the said loan request. According to him, when the state government approached the UBA for the loan, the bank demanded that the state should secure another approval from the legislators, that the loan be tied to an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) – demand that made the government return to the lawmakers for approval.
Chime further maintained that instead of approving the ISPO demand, the leadership of the Assembly demanded kick-backs, a demand he promptly refused, leading to the ongoing attacks on his government.
“They started embarrassing the government, summoning officials and my aides to come and explain even actions that took place in my first term just because they couldn’t get money from me; you can see their frustrations,” he stated.
He also dismissed other accusations that bordered on alleged 25-year water concessioning, fraudulent allocation of lands, and the inflation of the contract sum for the ongoing new state secretariat, among others.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State House of Assembly has remained sealed.
Our correspondent who went to the legislative house observed that many security operatives had taken over the place