Monday, March 16, 2015 5:03 pm
Odefa Obasi Odefa, a member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, representing Oncha East Constituency, moved the motion for impeachment of Governor Elechi. He spoke on claims that Senator Pius Anyim, the SGF, is behind the impeachment plot and the determination of the lawmakers to see the impeachment through in this interview with AYORINDE OLUOKUN
You moved the motion for the impeachment of the Governor. But are some members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly interested in impeaching the Governor just few months to the end of his tenure with all the attendants troubles associated with the process?
Well, first of all, we are just living up to our constitutional responsibilities. It is the Governor who has turned the State to his looting centre for himself, his family and his in laws who is causing problems in the State. The Governor breached the Constitution of Nigeria. Section 7 did not provide for caretaker committees in the management of local governments, it says a democratically elected local government councils. When you sack local government chairmen and councils elected through the Courts and you now go on your own to appoint caretaker chairmen, screen them and swear them in, under whose section of the Constitution are you doing that?
But Governor Elechi is not unique in that respect, other States have also appointed caretaker chairmen…
If it is not unique, he should follow the law. Have you found out how they did it in other places? There must be a resolution from the House of Assembly which makes laws with which the local governments are administered. For instance, we have 64 development centres in Ebonyi State, the Governor sacked 28. But Section 8 of the Law 0007 of 2007 duly assented to by the Governor states that for you to appoint a coordinator, the House of Assembly must confirm and clear. But the Governor nominated, screened and appointed them into office.
Remember that the money accruing to the states is not Governor Martin Elechi’s money, it is money for the people of Ebonyi State and we, the House of Assembly members, are not there to just be saying ‘yes sir’, to Governor Elechi. We are there on behalf of the people, power certainly belongs to the people and by every means, and we shall exercise that power. That’s why they elected us. And it is not only that. How can a state governor spend billions of public funds, incorporate a company for the State and you give Ebonyi State government 50 per cent of the shares and you give your brother in law who is the candidate of the Labour Party, 175 million shares; you give another crony who is a serving coordinator of another development centre 25 million shares. Is that not fraud? You also incorporate another company called Ebonyi Oil and Gas Limited and out of 200 million shares, you gave Ebonyi State government 50 million, you gave your brother in law the same governorship candidate of Labour Party 100 million shares, you gave your first son who is the candidate of Labour Party for Senate 50 million shares and you gave another man 25 million shares. Who is deceiving who?
The same Governor on his own went to take a N6 billion loan from First Bank without the consent or the knowledge of the House of Assembly. Is the loan taken on behalf of his family or people of Ebonyi State? He also took N3 billion which is also still being paid till May. Did he take those loans as Martins Elechi or on behalf of the people of Ebonyi State? Who did he consult with?
But why did the House of Assembly fail to act until now?
It is when the fact comes that you react. Remember, when he is doing all these things, he was not publishing them in newspapers. For instance, when we discovered that the man has continued to breach the constitution, in spite of interventions from our elders, clergymen and opinion leaders in Ebonyi State for him to see reason and toe the line of constitutionalism. So, what do you want us to do? We are left with no option than to protect the people of Ebonyi State. We cannot mortgage that state to Governor Elechi and his family.
But the Commissioner of Finance told some groups who are protesting against the impeachment move that the allegations of financial improprieties leveled against the Governor are not true…
Did we mention the Commissioner of Finance?
But with his position, he should know
It’s the Governor that we are talking about. He is the principal, the Chief Accounting Officer of the State. He is the one that by law is duty bound to account to the people and account to us. So, the onus lies on him to go ahead and tell us the allegations are true or are not true.
Some people believed that the impeachment move is fallout of the gubernatorial primary in Ebonyi State, especially the struggle for the control of the structure of the party between the Abuja forces and the Governor…
Who are the Abuja forces?
The Abuja forces as led by Senator Pius Anyim, the SGF…
Is it Senator Pius Anyim that appointed the caretaker chairmen for the local governments? Is it Senator Anyim that appointed coordinators of Development Centres without the knowledge of the House? Is it Senator Pius Anyim that took a loan without the House consent? Is it Senator Anyim who spent taxpayers’ money to form companies and gave them to his brother in law? Let’s stop being trivial. If anybody has problems with Senator Pius Anyim, let him go and sort it out with him.
Is that why you run away from Ebonyi State and came to Abuja?
Nobody ran away. We are based in the State carrying out or legislative functions. There is no doubt that there is a threat to our lives, just as he sent his cronies to go and burn down the State House of Assembly because we are investigating his son, we are investigating fraud based on petitions written to us with facts by people. So, it is not a case of people running away. If we run away where is our family?
Now that the Court has stopped the proceedings, what is your next step?
The Court did not stop the impeachment proceedings. Section 188, sub section 10 is very clear of the constitution is very clear – it simply explained that the stoppage of proceedings of impeachment cannot be done by any court. What the Governor is saying is that he has not been served and the Court said we should serve him first. But he thinks that we are a bunch of fools.
But we have served him and in our motion in the House which I moved, the mode of service was explained.