Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state has dismissed impeachment proceedings against him by the state House of Assembly, even as he described the move as ‘an exercise in futility.’
It would be recalled that a faction of the state House of Assembly led by the Speaker, Eugene Odo and 13 others, Monday, directed the Clerk of the House Christopher Chukwurah to serve Governor Chime an impeachment notice.
However, reacting to the development Chime said the action would not see the light of the day.
Barely 24 hours after the crisis broke out, the state Governor-elect, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Tuesday morning, brokered a truce between the warring factions, as he held a closed-door meeting with the 24 members of the house.
At the end of the meeting, the two factions resolved to sheathe their swords for the next two weeks, while efforts are being made to restore peace and normalcy to the legislature before the end of their tenure.
However, addressing a news conference at the Government House, Monday night, the governor also described as false insinuations in some quarters that he had been served the purported impeachment notice, explaining that he had rather received communication from the Clerk of the House, Christopher Chukwurah to the effect that a leadership change had taken place in the Assembly with Hon. Chinedu Nwamba emerging as the new speaker.
He said 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, noting that with the action coming about three weeks to the end of his tenure was not only targeted at causing mischief but was malicious.
“Looking at the provisions of the constitution, they have clearly not complied with it. By the time the required number articulate the allegations against me, the speaker is required by law to within 7 days to 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 suspension and counter-suspension, I don’t think they can even get the required two-third. 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’m 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.”
Meanwhile, Governor-elect, Ugwuanyi has brokered truce between the warring factions of the state House of Assembly.
Ugwuanyi had held a closed door meeting with the 24 members where they were reportedly asked to sheath their swords as efforts are made to resolve all the issues within the next two weeks.
At the end of the meeting, the lawmakers agreed to suspend any further public statements on the issue pending the resolution of the crisis.
Spokespersons of the two groups, Hon. Michael Onyeze representing Ignoeze North 1 constituency for Odoh faction and Hon Joseph Ugwumba representing Enugu-East Rural constituency for Chinedu Nwamba faction said within the period of the two weeks, the Assembly complex would remain under lock and key except in any case of an emergency where they are required to engage in legislative activity.
While applauding Ugwuanyi for swiftly intervening in the matter even when he was yet to assume office as the governor, the lawmakers agreed to be part of all the peace processes he would initiate in a bid to return the Assembly to one House.
Fifteen out of 24 members of the Enugu State House of Assembly had earlier on Monday commenced an impeachment process, putting forward allegations of forgery, inflation of funds for state project execution and unlawful acquisition of public landed property.
But nine members of the House loyal to Governor Chime removed the speaker, suspended some principal officers and adjourned sitting of the House indefinitely.