The Nigerian Police tend not to bring suspects of crimes before a judge within the constitutional 24 or 48 hours, but detain them for longer periods of time in police custody. The worst aspect of the matter is that conditions in Police cells are worse than those in the prisons.
The police is your friend,” is a common aphorism amongst men of the Nigeria Police Force but unfortunately this is not totally true considering the antecedents of policemen.
Unlawful arrests of innocent citizens are carried out and the police continue to execute suspects extra-judicially and torture is widespread in police custody.
Detention in police lockups is intended to be for a short time, at about 24 hours before one is charged to court.
Constitutionally, it is only the courts that have the final say as to whether a person is to be remanded in prison or finally executed depending on the magnitude of offence committed.
The Nigerian police tend not to bring suspects of crimes before a judge within the constitutional 24 or 48 hours, but detain them for longer periods of time in police custody. The worst aspect of the matter is that conditions in Police cells are worse than those in the prisons.
A victim whose case is still being heard in the courts and preferring anonymity told The Tide on Sunday, “I was supposed to stay here three days, but I was held up to four months. I was not given access to talk to my lawyer. There was a lot of intimidation.”
He further asserted, “the state CID (Criminal Investigation Department) wanted to kill me, they beat me, they killed people beside me and shot some. So, I confessed.”
It is no longer strange that the Nigerian Police execute detainees. Moreover, the police execute people for refusal to pay bribes or during road checks, saying they are criminal suspects. One of such took place in Port Harcourt in March this year along Ada-George Road, when a bus driver who refused to give, ‘egunje’ to the policemen on the road was shot dead.
The report which was published by the Punch Newspapers has it that trouble broke out when the unsuspecting bus driver failed to give the illegal N50 road check fees. The policeman was said to have been incensed by the effrontery and shot him point blank.
Other cases include the shooting during arrest of suspected armed robbers. On September 4, 2007, the former Inspector-general of Police, Sir Mike Okiro made public in his address, “100 Days of Pragmatic Policing in Nigeria,” that between June and August 2007 some 785 suspected armed robbers were killed in shoot-outs with police.
The Networks on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) observed that, “whatever the explanation, extra-judicial executions appear to have become an acceptable tool of policing”.
The non-governmental organisation argued that it was hard to quantify the number of people killed by the police as “the police do not keep adequate records of encounter and other killings committed by its personnel or that figures of police killings are deliberately manipulated to produce, artificial low statistics.
In the same vein, another non-governmental organisation, LEAP has documented cases of extra-judicial executions and impunity for several years. Its 2004 report showed an impunity rate of 100 percent: none of the almost 350 reported incidents in 2004, which resulted in almost 3,000 deaths, was investigated.
In 2005, former President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledged that the extra-judicial execution and killings of suspects and innocent citizens by the police was widespread. In October, newspapers reported that the Commissioner of Police in the Federal capital Territory ordered his policemen to shoot at sight suspected robbers caught in the act.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in a report following his visit to Nigeria in 2005, also documented the practice of extra-judicial executions.
Part of the report reads thus, “There is no reason to doubt that the 2,402 armed robbers killed since 2000 were in reality all armed robbers, much less that they were all killed in shot-outs. Armed robbery as such should be removed as a capital offence,” adding, “despite the fact that the scourge of armed robbery plagues much of Nigeria, the label of ‘armed robber is very often used to justify the jailing and or extra-judicial execution of innocent individuals.”
In March 2008, the Special Rapporteur observed that despite the alarm they raised earlier, nothing has changed, “unfortunately, it seems like business as usual with the Nigerian Police,” he said, “continuing to get away with murder and patterns of human rights violation that I witnessed in 2005 have continued today.”
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also frowned at the situation. In its report, titled, “State of Human rights in Nigeria 2005 – 2006 observed, “prolonged years of military rule in Nigeria entrenched a culture of disregard for human life, particularly on the part of security and law enforcement agencies. This attitude has largely remained unchanged, seven years after the advent of democracy. Cases of extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions have been persistently recorded across the country.”
The same view was shared by the NHRC zonal coordinator in Rivers State, Barrister Emily Herbert in an exclusive chat with the Sunday Tide. She disclosed that the commission had received several petitions from members of the public over missing relatives in police custody.
Barrister Herbert while frowning at the untoward attitude of the Police to suspects disclosed that reports of sudden disappearances of people in police detention underscore the fact that the police is condoning such inhuman activity by its men.
Because of the various petitions received so far, she stated that the commission had been compelled to write to the police authorities in Rivers State to address the matter.
Said Herbert, “the State Commissioner of Police has promised to treat about two of such cases in the room trial and those policemen involved would be stripped off their uniforms.”
Aside extra-judicial killings, the NHRC zonal co-ordinator also pointed the issue of the inability of some companies to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before carrying out operations in their host communities.
She pointed out that such attitude was capable of breeding hostilities and violence in such communities stressing that EIA is the right of the people.
Over the years, Amnesty International has documented many cases of human rights violations by the security forces in Nigeria. The military are frequently involved in extra-judicial executions and other human rights – violations, particularly in the Niger Delta.
The use of excessive force by the military when dealing with clashes is a frequent occurrence, often resulting in the death of bystanders, for example in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in August 2007; Odioma, Bayelsa State in February 2005; at the Ugborodo community members demonstration at the Escravos oil terminal, Delta State, in February 2005; Zaki Biam in Benue, in 2001 and Odi in Bayelsa, in 1999.
In all of these cases, no action was known to have been taken to bring the suspected perpetrators of these human rights violations to justice.
Similarly on the morning of August 17, 2009, the Joint Taskforce in Sama, Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, executed an unarmed man and dumped his body into the river.
Rattled by this development, the core militant group in the Niger Delta, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) warned that extra-judicial killings in the region could end the ceasefire it declared recently.
Spokesman of the group, Jomo Gbomo in an online statement disclosed that the youths of the area angered by JTF action moblised and carried out a reprisal attack on the army unit responsible for the extra-judicial killing and killed a solider and made away with his rifle. He noted that, “such irresponsible actions by the military even when it is targeted at civilians is not acceptable and can jeopardise the current ceasefire if repeated.”
Worried over the spate of extra-judicial killings, the National Assembly in 2005 started debating a bill for Act to establish the ‘Police Complaints Bureau with powers to investigate, inquire, recommend and prosecute cases of extra-judicial killings, human rights abuses, unlawful extortion by the police.
This bill was withdrawn by the end of 2005. In 2008, a bill with the same name was introduced.
Government has at various times blamed the situation on the security challenges in the country. For example, in September 2007, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture that, “while Government does not intend to justify torture and ill-treatment under any circumstances, it is hoped that the international community understands the enormous challenges faced by law-enforcement agencies in a developing nation as our own like .
He continued, “…the lack of an effective complaints mechanism, the unsatisfactory state of detention facilities; the under-resourced and over-stretched criminal justice system; Sharia Law and Corporal punishment.”
In a meeting with Amnesty International in July 2007, senior police officials at the federal headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force confirmed that they had received reports of torture and that they were addressing these “unconventional,” ways of interviewing.
In practice, any actions taken by the Nigeria Police Force had failed to end the use of torture in the interrogation of suspects.
But as the NHRC highlighted in its report on the state of human rights, accused the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and other law enforcement agencies of coming act of torture with impunity. Unfortunately, confessions extracted by torture are used as evidence in court contrary to international standards.
Nevertheless, because of the bad image this has given to the country and the police, Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Chief Pius Osayande last week issued a strong warning to policemen.
Chief Osayande who gave the warning at Owerri said the commission would sanction any Divisional Police Officer who engages in extra-judicial killings. He urged them to desist or face expulsion from service.
The Bini Chief who was a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police stated that the commission was poised to transform the police by ensuring that all unlawful acts and corruption are curbed.
To achieve this, he revealed that the agency needs about N340 billion to upgrade the police and raise the welfare of policemen in the country.
Most popular toys in 2018
Every year some toys emerge as popular among children across all ages. These toys are considered a “must have” by most kids and are often on their Christmas wish list. The year 2018 is no different with some toys making it to the favorite list of most children. Most times, the toys vary in terms of size, color and design giving kids a chance to choose the ones that appeal to them. Nevertheless, it is essential to start your shopping early to get the best deals without having to stretch the available funds.
What to look for when buying toys in 2018
Apart from having your kids’ preferences in mind when purchasing toys in 2018, you should also check if they are suitablefor children.Some of the things you should consider when buying toys are listed below.
- Age of child – Most toys have a label that indicates the age of the child that is allowed to play with them. Ensure that you read the label before buying a toy, so that gets all the benefits meant to be derived from using it. Age-appropriate toys contribute to the development of children, making it vital that they get the right type of plaything.
- Safety – Majority of the favorite toys can be a great addition to your child’s collection in 2018. However, it is essential to check the toys for corners, sharp edges, and harmfulpoints which might not have been mentioned on the warning label. Toys that are easy to dismantle and have loose parts should also be vetted to see whether they are appropriate for the child. Focus on buying toys that cannot lead to injuries and are durable for different kinds of play.
- Affordability-The price of toys vary from one store to another, with some being cheap and others quite expensive. When going shopping, have a budget that will guide the quality and quantity of toys that you can purchase for your children. You can consider buying one expensive toy that is their favorite and adding others that are low cost to achieve a balance.
- Versatility –Toys that can only be used for a short time or appeal to children of a specific age group may not be the best ones to buy for kids. Go for toys that can be used to entertain and educate the child over a long period without them getting bored.
- Durability –Most children, especially toddlers enjoy picking apart toys as a way for them to explore its workings. It is therefore vital to buy toys that made from sturdy material, and all their parts are screwed on tightly so that they are not easily spoilt. Also, ensure that paint used on the toys do not easily peel off and are non-toxic.
Top 6 favorite toys in 2018
The number of toys launched in 2018is many with several appealing to both boys and girls of different ages. Some of the toys that have been ranked as favorites this year include:
- LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall Building Kit
The game is designed to resemble Hogwarts Great Hall Building in the popular Harry Potter movie. It is 878 pieces which when arranged reveal the Great Hall which is a famous building in the film. Some of the pieces that stand out are the treasure room, spiral staircase, and potions room. Popular figurines are also part of the set with characters such as Nearly Headless, Nick, Harry Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasely, Hagris, Draco, Professor NacGonagall and Susan Bones among others.
- Barbie Care Clinic Vehicle
Barbie has been part of the favorite toy list for many years, and in 2018 she is in charge of a mobile clinic. She has a twenty piece set that includes a gift shop, exam room and waiting room which are used to tackle emergencies of varying magnitudes. The ambulance in the collection has lights as well as siren sounds that are turned on using a button which is quite exciting for kids who are three years and older.
- Paw Patrol – Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck
Kids that love the Paw Patrol cartoon will enjoy playing with the truck whose sounds, and flashing lights keep them entertained. The truck has a Marshall who sits in the cab looking out but can also jump into the fire cart when they need to rescue animals. The extendable ladder and working claw are fun to use to save animals stuck in trees.
- Smart Learning Home
Fisher price has always focused on making playtime fun for babies for many years. In 2018, they introduced a toy that helps small children learn about the weather, numbers, and shapes. The interactive toy also has sounds, music, and lights to keep your baby entertained. To find out more about interactive toys for babies, visit https://www.bestreviews.guide/topics/toys-kids-and-baby.
- Sesame Street Lets Dance Elmo
Elmo is loved by many children that have interacted with him and his friends on the Sesame Street show. In 2018, he is dancing and grooving to different types of music, making him an excellent toy for children working on their motor skills. The toy has musical modes namely songs, colors and animals which gives kids a variety to choose from. When the modes are changed, Elmo begins to wiggle, or dance and the color on his heart begins to turn as well.
- Radio Flyer busy buggy
Toddlers that are active and always on the move will enjoy having this ride-on toy. The carriage has several features that make its fun to ride over short distances. Some of the fancy features that make it one of the most interactive toys in 2018 include an adjustable dashboard, horn, moving windshield, and sliding beads among others. Active youngsters get to develop their motor skills as they cruise within the home while adjusting their reflective mirror.
Overall, no matter the choice of toys you buy for your children, ensure that they are educational, fun and safe.
CRFFN Registers 5000 Freight Forwarders
More than 5,000 freight forwarders have so far registered with the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN) in its on-going membership drive.
The CRFFN Director (Education and Research), Mr Alban Igwe, told our correspondents on Thursday in Lagos that the initiative was part of efforts to re-organise the freight forwarding business in Nigeria.
He said that freight forwarders, who failed to register with the council, would at the end of the exercise be regarded as fake businessmen.
According to him, the council plans to enforce its operational code which allows only registered members to practise.
“The registration, which started last year, is on-going. The enforcement, which should have started already, will start shortly as soon as all logistics are on ground.
“We have a tribunal that will try all illegal freight forwarders and any forwarder found guilty will be sentenced.
“Education of freight forwarders continues because over 70 per cent involved in the business do not have more than school certificate,” he said.
Igwe said that the association had concluded plans to conduct intensive training across the country in line with the provision of the Act that established the council.
He said that education remained the key role of the CRFFN in assisting freight forwarders to acquire professional skills and knowledge.
Igwe said that the council had signed memoranda of understanding with 10 training institutions to facilitate achievement of this objective.
The CRFFN Director also said that the training programme had made it possible for interested freight forwarders to acquire PHD degrees, stressing that the era of quacks had gone.
The Impeachment Blues in Abia
In all these exercises, the dramatic impeachment of Comrade Chris Akomas on August 2, 2010, has been the swiftest. It was concluded in a record 19 days! The House of Assembly on July 15, 2010, kicked off the process to remove him from office.
A new deputy governor is expected to emerge in Abia state this week. If that happens, he will be the product of the recent impeachment of the erstwhile number two citizen of the state, Comrade Chris Akomas.
Abia State, perhaps, holds an unenviable record of deployment of impeachment as an instrument of governmental control.
Between 1999 and 2010, Abia has witnessed at least, successful impeachment of two deputy governors and equal number of House of Assembly speakers as well as unsuccessful attempt to impeach a governor and a deputy governor.
Those affected are late Dr.Chima Nwafor, who was removed as Deputy Governor early 2007 and Comrade Chris Akomas,who was impeached on August 2, 2010.
Speakers who were removed from office include late Chief Nkem Ike, the First Speaker of the second Abia State House of Assembly. He was in office for about two months as he was shoved out of office early August 2009, while his successor, Prince Christopher Enweremadu, barely lasted in office for a year as he was removed in August 2000. The impeachment of Chief Nkem Ike was the first recorded in the country in the dawn of the current political dispensation in 1999.
Also, attempts were made to impeach former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu but he managed to escape by the whiskers just as his deputy, Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe, had to resign from office when the heat of impeachment process against him apparently became unbearable.
In all these exercises, the dramatic impeachment of Comrade Chris Akomas on August 2, 2010, has been the swiftest. It was concluded in a record 19 days!
The House of Assembly on July 15, 2010, kicked off the process to remove Akomas from office.
Speaking under motion of urgent public importance, the member representing Aba Central Constituency and a former Deputy Speaker, Chief Uzo Azubuike, moved the motion that Akomas be served the notice of impeachment, adding that the allegations were being probed in line with section 188 of the 1999 Constitution. Twenty-one of the lawmakers signed the document which contained a six-point allegation of gross misconduct against the former deputy Governor.
They accused Akomas of willfully absenting himself from office and duty without any lawful excuse or permission; that he has consistently and willfully failed, neglected and or refused to attend state functions without lawful excuse.
The notice of impeachment also accused Akomas of failing to attend the signing of Abia state 2010 Appropriation law and refusing to appear at Government House Lodge, Umuahia, to receive Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, Governor Peter Obi and their entourage, whom the House described as “acclaimed Igbo leaders” when they visited Governor Theodore Orji on July 2, 2010.
Furthermore, the lawmakers accused the former deputy governor of unlawfully converting public funds to his personal use by causing and or directing proceeds from official cheques meant for government’s work to be paid into his private bank account as well as willfully discrediting and dissociating himself from the Abia state Government which he is deputy governor, when he told the whole world through both print and electronic media that the only achievement of the Abia state Government for 3 years was in the field of cocoa.
They added that Akomas willfully disparaged the highly esteemed office of deputy governor when he alleged through both print and electronic media that the office of deputy governor was only a spare tyre and that being morally bankrupt, he desecrated the office of deputy governor when as a result of [alleged] amorous relationships with staff of his office, his wife Uchechi Chris Akomas, engaged female staff in physical combat, thereby bringing the state government to ridicule and public odium.
Based on these allegations, the members who signed the notice then prayed the speaker “to direct Comrade Chris Alozie Akomas, deputy governor of Abia state to answer and respond forthwith to the above charges.”
When he was served with the notice of impeachment, Akomas raced to an Umuahia High Court to save his job, but replied and denied all the allegations intoto.
In a suit filed before Justice A.U Kalu on July 19, 2010 Akomas sought an order restraining the Abia lawmakers from removing him from office, saying that his tenure would only expire on May 29, 2011 having been sworn in for a four-year tenure on May 29, 2007.
Based on the suit No. HU/110/2010, Akomas, through his counsel J.A. Badejo, SAN, wrote to the secretary of the investigative panel, Mr. Ben Nwakanma, notifying the panel of the suit and a pending application to restrain the House from taking any action against the deputy governor until the determination of the suit.
When the suit came up on July 26, 2010, the presiding judge, Justice Kalu, granted an order to join 14 lawmakers in the list of defendants which already included Governor Theodore Orji, the state government, the House Speaker, the House of Assembly and the Attorney-General of the state.
Among other things, Akomas also wanted the court to hold that he was “not bound to defect from the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) with the first defendant (Governor Orji) to the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) or any other party.”
In his claims, the former deputy governor averred that the Speaker and the Abia lawmakers who signed the impeachment letter were not even qualified to commence any impeachment proceedings against him since they had “vacated their respective seats as members of the fourth defendant (House of Assembly), having defected from PPA to APGA.”
He equally sought orders of the court setting aside all steps so far taken by the defendants in a bid to remove him from office; a perpetual injunction nullifying the entire impeachment proceedings, as well as an order directing the first and second defendants to pay him all accrued statutory emoluments and allowances as deputy governor from 2007 to the present.
Despite the court action, the lawmakers pressed ahead with the impeachment process. At its plenary session on July 22, the member representing Aba Central, Mr. Uzo Azubuike, the mover of the impeachment motion, moved another motion under same Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution, this time around, under sub-sections 3 and 4, urging the speaker of the House, Chief Agwu U. Agwu, to direct the state Chief Judge to set up a panel to investigate the allegations.
The Chief Judge, Mr. Sunday Imo, promptly complied after receive the directive from the Speaker by setting up, the next day, a seven man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct leveled against Akomas by the lawmakers.
He explained that the establishment of the investigation panel was in line with a recent documentation, presentation and demand by the members of the Abia State House of Assembly that that the deputy governor be impeached. Initially, the membership of the panel was not made public.
Justice Imo urged members of the panel to do a thorough job in order not to disappoint the public and further challenged the panel to avoid favouritism, ethnic bigotry and see themselves as people saddled with a responsibility as huge as that of the impeachment of a deputy governor.
Imo said that he was guided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which in Section 186 (5, 7) of the 1999 empowered him to undertake the task of constituting such the panel.
He further challenged the panel to realize the enormity of the task before them and urged the members not to embark on demands outside the purview of the law, reminding them that they were carefully chosen because of their integrity and track records.
The panel, headed by Barrister Amobi Agbara, summoned Akomas to appear before it on July 29, 2010. the summons was conveyed via a letter dated July 26, 2010 and signed by the secretary of the panel, Barrister Nwakanma. Akomas was directed to come with his witnesses and documents to defend himself. The panel secretary warned the deputy governor that the panel would continue with its proceedings whether he came or not.
Though he went to court to stop the impeachment moves against him, Akomas, nonetheless replied to the notice of allegations of gross misconduct against him by sending a written defence to the Speaker of the House in a letter dated July 19, 2010.
In his defence, the former deputy governor pointed out that the lawmakers were already biased against him having said in the opening paragraph of the impeachment notice that he ‘is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office.’ “This clearly confirms that you have already taken a stand even before the sitting,” Akomas said in the letter to the Speaker.
The investigative panel began sitting on July 29 and barred journalists from covering the proceedings.
Security at the Aguiyi Ironsi Conference Centre, Umuahia, venue of the sitting was very tight as scores of anti-riot and regular policemen were drafted to the place. The entrances to the venue were blocked by the policemen who denied people thorough fare on the street.
A senior policemen told reporters who converged to cover the proceedings that the Chief Judge directed that reporters should not be allowed to cover the proceeding.
Not satisfied, the journalists marched to the office of the Chief Judge. He vigorously denied ever giving such directive.
“My work stops at the appointment of the panel. Where they are sitting, how they are sitting, I don’t know. Previously they used to sit in the court, but now we say that they should not sit here. i have no hand whatsoever in what they do. Whether they want the press or not, I don’t know.
“I want to make it categorically clear that what they do there I don’t know. I have no business with them. I am sounding it very loud and clear that I have no hand in what they do. I did not say that and I have no business to do that,” Justice Imo explained.
Akomas attendedthe inaugural sitting on July 29 and the next day. On July 31, Akomas and his legal team worked out on the panel citing “pre-determined agenda” to nail him.
Moments later, Akomas announced his resignation from office as deputy governor.
At a press conference where he announced his resignation, Akomas read his resignation letter to the state governor, Chief Theodore Orji, dated July 27, 2010 which he said took effect from July 30, 2010.
Akomas insisted that he had “dutifully and conscientiously performed the duties of my office as Deputy Governor despite the most excruciating and most humiliating, and the most difficult circumstances under which I have had to discharge the duties of my office.”
He made it clear that his travails predated the present crisis which erupted after Governor Orji resigned from the progressive peoples Alliance (PPA) and joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) without informing him or inviting him to come along either in writing or verbally.
Akomas said that the governor further proved that he was no longer needed in government house because within a week of the commencement of the impeachment proceedings, the governor “directed he be shut out of the Governor’s Lodge at Abuja where the Deputy Governor’s Lodge is also located.
“All drivers, vehicles and government personnel (in Abuja ) and some in Umuahia attached to my office have been withdrawn and the office of the deputy governor has been thrown into ridicule, opprobrium and disdain,” he said
“It is now clear to me, beyond any shadow of doubt that you are doing everything to show that you no longer want to continue to work with me as your Deputy Governor; since our personal relationship is now being clearly determined by those who fought and have been fighting me because of you,” he said in the letter of resignation.
The deputy governor, who spoke in emotion laden voice and heavy heart, said that the governor has used “executive powers to withhold allowances and other authorised expenses, which over the past three years has accumulated to the sum of over N425, 037, 746.00”.
“In the above circumstances and for the reasons stated herein and others to be more succinctly stated in the appropriate forum at a definite date, I, Comrade Chris Alozie Akomas, Deputy Governor of Abia State, wish to invoke my full right, guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and do hereby tender my resignation a the Deputy governor of Abia State effective 30th of July 2010,” he said.
But in a swift reaction, the state government said that the deputy governor has not resigned and was only trying to jump the gun, seeing that the game was up for him as he could not defend the allegations against him before the investigative panel.
The special adviser to the governor on media and publicity, Chief Anthony Agbazuere, who addressed newsmen, insisted that the deputy governor, Chris Akomas has not resigned and so remains the deputy governor, saying that no letter of resignation has been received by the governor to the best of his knowledge.
Agbazuere said that if Akomas wanted to resign he should have followed the due process as stipulated in Section 306 (1, 2&5) of the 1999 Constitution. Quoting the relevant section of the Constitution he said: “The resignation of any person from any office established by this constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed.”
For Akomas to have attended the panel sitting earlier in the day and coming home few hours later to announce his resignation, according to Agbazuere, was a clear indication that the deputy governor was trying “to be smart” having realised that there was no where he was going to extricate himself from the impeachment given, weighty evidence against him which he could not defend.
However, Counsel to Akomas, Obinna O. Nkume, told newsmen that it was “evidently clear that the kangaroo panel” was out to do a hatchet job, adding that they had showed their bias by constraining the deputy governor to put in his 25 witnesses in one day whereas the claimants were given two days to put in two witnesses.
He said that the Constitution stipulates that the accused should be given fair hearing but that the way the panel was going about their business was a pointer that they were “working towards a predetermined time frame within which to nail the deputy governor.”
The whole exercise came to a climax on August 2, 2010 when the House of Assembly went ahead to impeach Akomas, 48 hours after the former deputy governor said he has resigned.
The House said Akomas was found guilty in all the charges against him. Quoting Section 188 (9) of the Constitution, the Speaker said that having received the report of the panel which proved the allegations against the deputy governor the House would then consider it and if supported by 2/3 members of the legislature “the holder of the office shall be removed”.
Thereafter, the Speaker went straight to page 24 of the panel’s report and read out to the lawmakers that the panel has “established” that the deputy governor was guilty of engaging in amorous relationships with some female members of his staff based on the evidence of CW1 (deputy chief of staff, Chief Charles Ogbonna).
He, therefore, pronounced the impeachment at exactly 12.32pm during the plenary of the house, saying “the Deputy Governor of Abia State, Comrade Chris Akomas, stands removed from office with effect from today.”
There was no dissenting voice against the impeachment and the Speaker directed the clerk of the House to transmit the decision to the Akomas and Governor Theodore Orji.
Part of the letter transmitted to the governor read: “That on the 2nd day of August, the Abia State House of Assembly at her plenary session, received and considered the report of the said investigative panel which held that the allegations leveled against Comrade Chris Alozie Akomas were established and proved before them and the Abia State House of Assembly by more than two-third majority votes, without any dissention, duly adopted the report and findings of the panel.” The letter was dated the same day the House removed Akomas from office.
But in a prompt reaction to the new development, Akomas fired back that the action of the lawmakers was “medicine after death,” since he had already resigned from office, adding that Abia lawmakers have only “exhibited legislative recklessness and disregard for the rule of law.
His counsel, Obinna O. Nkume, who told newsmen that he had the authority of Akomas to speak on the issue, said that “this is a clear case of legislative recklessness and lawlessness in a democratic setting which is not allowed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He pointed out that Akoma had Akomas had already resigned from office and submitted his letter of resignation to the appropriate authorities, including the Governor and the Speaker, adding that the Speaker even acknowledged receipt of the letter. He said the resignation took effect from the time the addresses received the letters.
Nkume expressed disappointment at the way the Abia legislators went ahead with the “purported impeachment” when they should be making laws for good governance. He insisted the impeachment would not stand in the face of the law.
According to him, Akomas had already instituted legal actions challenging the entire impeachment proceedings, including a separate action against the chief judge for setting up the panel in the first place when there was a subsisting action on the matter.
However, the deputy Chief of Staff, Charles Ogbonna, who was a star witness in the panel investigation, said immediately after the impeachment, that the lawmakers were justified because the allegations against Akomas were “weighty enough” to warrant his removal.
The clock started to thick for Akomas when his boss jumped ship and joined the All Progressive Peoples Alliance. But it became obvious that the romance was over when Governor Orji received his Ibeku kinsmen at Government House on July 8, 2010.
It was at that forum the Orji openly accused Akomas of disloyalty. He told his people that Akomas, aftyer pledging his loyalty to him before his kinsmen organized a reception in his honour, turned round to be the arrow the head of the plot to disgrace him.
He repeated the allegation later when reporters accosted him.
“Yes, what I said is correct. My deputy is not a loyal deputy for sure. You know He’s been trying to push me away; he wants to take over my seat and that wouldn’t happen. No governor will tolerate that type of thing,” Orji said.
He equally pointed out that the Deputy Governor parried a question during a Press interview on whether he would contest the governorship in 2011 and stressed only the party and the structure would determine would be its candidate.
”You all read what he said on the pages of newspapers when he was asked whether he wants to be governor. And that is a direct question of either yes or no. Instead of saying yes, I want to be governor or no, I don’t want to be governor, he said it is the structure that would decide who would be governor. That is a clear testimony of his intentions. ‘He said it also that the deputy governor is a spare tyre.’ And I have repeatedly said I don’t need a spare tyre. My tyre is bullet proof. It can’t be deflated,” the governor said.
He added: “I can operate without a deputy governor but the constitution allows the office of the deputy governor. He is still there as the deputy governor but I am operating as governor and he is operating as a deputy governor.”
With the governor’s statement, those who read in beween the lines knew that the days of the former deputy governor were numbered.
Akomas did have the luck of Dr Chima Nwafor. Impeacment proceedings against Nwafor commenced in June 2006 and was concluded in August the same year. The lawmakers impeached him but did not remove him from office. They asked him to go and sin no more.
However, the lawmakers invoked the impeachment early 2007 and removed Nwafor from office. He was replaced with Chief Acho Nwakanma, who was then the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The motion to impeach Nwafor was moved by the member
representing Isiala Ngwa North State
onstituency, Prince Christopher Enweremadu, on June 14, 2006. He said the Deputy
Governor constituted a threat to state security following his purported
indictment by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National
orking Committee which investigated the dispute between Governor
Orji Uzor Kalu and former Minister of works and Housing, Chief Tony
Anenih. Nwafor was accused of informing Governor Kalu the Anenih had threatened to kill him and denied same.
Enweremadu said that the role of the Deputy Governor in the alleged threat to the life of Governor Kalu by Anenih which was communicated to him (Kalu) by Nwafor amounted to security risk.
According to Enweremadu, the actions of the deputy governor has created loss of confidence between him and the governor.
It could be that Nwafor was not removed immediately because of interventions by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state then and other prominent individuals.
Many who commented on the development were of the view that Akomas should have been allowed to complete his tenure or his resignation accepted by government.
Chief Ikechi Emenike, a governorship aspirant said the whole exercise was meant to humiliate and crush Akomas, otherwise, he said the governor should have continued with him in the spirit of the wind of change the governor said he was championing.
Followers of Nigerian politics believe that deputy governors, commonly referred to as spare tyres, last in office as long as their governor desire. Once they fell out their governors, their end in office is predictable. Many said the constitution should have another look the status of the deputy governors to guaranty tenure in office
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