Why We Want To Impeach Elechi –Onwe

Why We Want To Impeach Elechi –Onwe

Monday, March 16, 2015 4:44 pm


Frank Nwaka Onwe is a member representing Ohaukwu North constituency in the Ebonyi State House of Assembly. He spoke to AYORINDE OLUOKUN on why the lawmakers want to impeach Governor Elechi

Ebonyi State seems to be in turmoil at the moment as a result of the move to impeach the Governor by some lawmakers in the State House of Assembly. As one of the lawmakers involved in the move to sack the governor, what is really the problem?

Actually, the problems bother on constitutional breaches by the Governor and we are trying to tell him that these breaches are not good for the state and for democracy. I give you an example. The Governor appointed caretaker committee chairmen for the local governments, but section seven of the 1999 constitution stated that every person that will occupy the office of local government chairman must be duly elected. And if they are not elected, they have to pass through the House so that the House will screen and confirm them for you, but the Governor didn’t do that.

We called his attention to it and said, ‘look, you’ve breached a section of the constitution. Why don’t you send them to us so that we can screen, confirm and hand them over to you the same day so that due process would have taken place? We called him to a meeting, met with him over five times over the matter, but he refused. The same thing happened with the appointment of 28 development centre coordinators.

•Frank Nwaka Onwe

•Frank Nwaka Onwe

He appointed members of boards and commissions without subjecting them to due process of screening and confirmation by the House. We called his attention to it. He will always say he will do it, but he wouldn’t do it. This is a man who obtained a loan of N6 billion from First Bank without approval from the House. This same Governor obtained a loan of N3 billion from UBA without the consent or approval of the House. Now, as if that is not enough, he floated two companies- Ebonyi Cement Company of about 250 million shares. He gave out shares to his brother in law who is now the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party. He gave out shares to one Linus Mba who is a coordinator of one of the development centres, he gave out shares to his first son and gave only 50 per cent of the shares to the State government.

But we said that is a breach of the law, you don’t use government funds to provide assets for private individuals, including your son. He floated another company called Ebonyi Oil and Gas and made his first son, the gubernatorial candidate of Labour Party and one Chima directors with the state government as the least shareholder in the company. So, all these things put together, we said if you are not ready to serve the people like you preach, it’s enough, particularly when he was not taking our advice seriously.

But why did you have to wait until there is a crisis over who emerges the gubernatorial candidate of PDP before you began to act on these series of constitutional breaches you have listed, because the general belief is that members of the House are acting out a script of some Abuja based politicians?

No, no no, party politics has nothing to do with the functions of the House. The House acted when facts were available to them. Like that of the companies, we got petitions, so we had to investigate the veracity of the petitions. For the one of the appointments, we called him severally and we discussed one on one. But he didn’t agree. So, it got to a point that we too cannot just sit down and allow things go that bad, otherwise we will no longer be representing the feelings of the people. Anybody has the right to join any party.

But some people believe that the reasons some of you are in Abuja after the impeachment motion was that you are being sponsored by some Abuja forces, led by Senator Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Federal Government who is believed to have been successful in imposing his preferred gubernatorial candidate on PDP to the chagrin of the Governor?

No. I am a member of PDP and we have our gubernatorial candidate. We are not quarrelling over that. I am also seeking re-election.

But the gubernatorial candidate is not the person the Governor Elechi wanted…

Actually, Governor Elechi has the right to support anybody he wants as the Governor. But the people have the right to choose who they want. It is one thing for him as an individual to want a candidate; it is another thing for the generality of the people to choose. Even those members supporting him are equally in Abuja now, so who is sponsoring them in Abuja? Abuja is the centre of the country; anybody can come here for one business or the other. So, I don’t know what they are talking about. We are saying that we must carry out our constitutional responsibility no matter whose ox is gored.

But the Commissioner of Finance has said there is no truth in some of the allegations of borrowings of money from banks you leveled against the Governor?

Have you heard any statement from Governor Elechi? We didn’t say the Commissioner of Finance did anything. Until we hear from Governor Elechi that’s when we will begin to take them serious, not when rented crowds talk. Ebonyi people are hungry so anybody can rent them to come and say anything. But as far as we are concerned, Governor Elechi has not responded to our allegations. If he fails to respond, he knows the Constitutional provision. After seven days of service on him, if he fails to respond, we will direct the Chief Judge to set up a panel to investigate him. It is as simple as that.

But the Court has stopped the process, so what is your next move?

The Court did not stop the process. The Court only acted on facts before it. The plaintiffs went to court to say that the Governor has not been served. But they have forgotten that on the day we issued notice of the impeachment, we put it in national dailies, on local newspapers, in radio announcements and we sent courier service to his office and they delivered it. You know it is an ex-parte motion; you don’t give opportunity for the other party to respond before you give judgment. It’s an interlocutory injunction.

Are you saying the House is determined to impeach Elechi…

Yes, if he doesn’t prove that the allegations are false. We are not witch-hunting him. If he proves that the allegations are false, then he will be given clean bill of health.

But we just have barely three months to go before the expiration of his tenure…

Are you saying because we have few months to go, there should be no law and order now in the country? If he is able to prove that all we are saying are false, no problem. After all, none of us wants to be Governor for now.

But when are you going back to Ebonyi because what they are saying there is that all of you ran to Abuja because Ebonyi has become too hot for you after you moved the motion for impeachment?

What makes it hot? We are in the majority. Anybody can come to Abuja for one business or the other. Did you see any policeman guiding us here? We moved around freely and if we want to do out constitutional duty, we will do it. We’ve been sitting in Ebonyi.


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