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When Editors Gathered In Port Harcourt

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Among media workers, editors are the most busiest. Aside their normal duty of ensuring that media contents are thoroughly scrutinised and packaged, they are also involved in the day-to day running of their organisations.

But last week, they took an official three days off not only to unwind but to take stock of their activities. The venue was Port Harcourt and the topic was “Oil, Gas and the Post -Amnesty issues”.

It is not strange that a lot of them had in their newsrooms edited stories and issues from the Niger-Delta without having a first hand information about the region.

Fortunately, the conference afforded them an opportunity to have first hand information of the so-call hot bed of the nation.

This is not the first time the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) conference has been held in Port Harcourt, according to its President, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, who is also the Deputy Managing Director of the Vanguard Group of newspapers.

His question set the tone of the conference, when he asked, “why would the Guild choose Oil and Gas, Post-Amnesty and the Nigerian Editor.”

Mr. Adefaye explained that  this year’s theme was put together in order to school the media executives on the operations in the oil and gas industry considering the huge revenue it rakes into the national purse.

According to the NGE president, Oil contributes more than 90 per ent of our foreign exchange earnings. It brings more than 50 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)”

Despite these huge economic contribution, Adefaye lamented that oil and gas has brought hardship and violence to  the nation.

Safe for the amnesty declared by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, he observed that the region and indeed the nation would have now been thrown into political and economic crisis.

It was in the light of this he said the editors had chosen Port Harcourt as their venue for discussing. In his view, the conference is an agenda refocusing one, considering the upcoming 2011 elections.

With the elections just around the corner, the NGE boss challenged editors and journalists, “to put public policies on the agenda even as the politicians play their game.”

In her remarks to declare the forum open, Minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili said aside from the stocktaking activity, editors should also join in the crusade to rebrand the country.

Prof Akunyili frowned at a situation where editors only publish negative stories about the country. She said such action not only dampen the image of the country but stifles the patriotic zeal which editors of the old were known for.

She declared, “ there are many good things in these country which I don’t  see reflected in the copies which the journalists mills churn out day-in-day out”.

The former NAFDAC boss was of the view that journalists and editors most especially  can spearhead   the crusade to rebrand Nigeria through agenda setting, canvassing of positive values and a celebration of developments in society which have ennobling potentials.

However, governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi lamented the sorry state of the region despite its huge oil and gas reserves.

Governor Amaechi, who described the people of  Niger Delta as “oppressed and depressed”, tasked the editors to use their medium to canvass for change.

He remarked, “you have the sacred duty to communicating to every stakeholders of this nation that there is something diabolically unjust about the state supervised economic oppression of a region that contributes 80 per cent of government revenues.

The Rivers State governor said, editors are the conscience of the nation. He stated that because of their role of improve society through effective communication they have a very important duty to transform the country.

He added, “ Nigeria needs editors who would hold elected servants accountable to the mandate of the people who elected them”.

His view on accountability was re-echoed by visiting President of the World Editors Forum (WEF), Bertrand Pecquerie, who stressed the need for the media to fully assert itself as the fourth estate of the realm.

By holding those in authority accountably, Mr Pecquerie averred that good governance would be enthroned.

Most of the papers presented at the conference was aimed at mirroring the oil and gas industry how to upgrade the knowledge of the editor in understanding the intricacies in the sector.

After brief comments by the chairman of the occasion, Rtd Major-Gen I.B.M Haruna, who was also former federal commissioner for Information during Murtala-Obasanjo regime, executive secretary of local content development  commission, Mr. Ernest Nwapa.

Mr. Nwapa informed the editors that the country was making progress with its local content polices. For instance, he explained that with the management of the commission in 2004, the agency  became independent since it was  formerly driven by the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission (NNPC).

He disclosed that the federal  government was evolving Nigeria Content Development Fund so as to fully tap the resources accruable from the sector. The fund, he stated would tax one per cent of every contract under the sector

So far, he said about 150,000 have been created in the sector, but lamented that these kobs are mostly dominated by foreigners.

The Nigerians Local Content Development Commission Secretary remarked that while the post-amnesty was still on-going the federal government was tinkering with the idea of creating more industries and employment in the sector.

More issues and grey areas cropped up after President of Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee presented his paper titled, “ oil exploration and the environment.”

Mr. Mitee’s paper took snipe at the various federal government polices, which according to him have deprived the people of the Niger Delta their God-given resources.

With their environment and ecosystem plundered, the MOSOP president noted that the time has come  for the federal authorities to fully address the plight of the people in the region. He was of the view that the issues go beyond  the post-amnesty programme.

On the second day, the editors were treated with more eye popping sleaze from the sector. Prof Asisi Asobie of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said behind the huge profits and revenue witnessed in the sector, the sector is mired in deep corruption. For instance, he said most of the oil firms do not given accurate statistics of the country’s oil production.

By shielding certain information from the Nigerian public, he explained that the country’s resources are stolen brazenny, as most of the foreign oil firms evade tax and royalties due to their communities.

He said activities of the oil/gas sectors need to be reported deeply and creatively due to lack of transparency and accountability by the industry players. 

Prof Asobie disclosed that so far, the body has recovered 500 million dollars as under payment from oil firms royalties to the states.

Also he said that even the NNPC was equally involved following investigations. He asserted that the study conducted by the body reveal that the corporations account was in the deficit of N655billion.

The university don argued that the huge task of transforming the sector lies in the hands of the  mass media, civil society  groups an the communities, who according to him should demand accountability and transparency from the sector players.

One way to ensure accountability in the oil sector according to Mr Stanley Ebochukwu was in adequate reportage and coverage.

As a business beat, Ebochuku said the sector should be given a deeper and incisive coverage”, it is a good development for most news medium taking interest in covering the sector”, he added.

He was of the view that oil/gas sector was not only economically viable for the newspapers but for any mass media which takes special interest in its reportage.

However, when the issue of preventing further violence and resurgence that beset the sector came up, former NDDC managing Director, Timi Alaibe said measures are being put in place to prevent instability that rocked oil /gas production last year.

Alaibe said the kidnapping of foreign nationals who dominate the sector has equally reduced following amnesty declared by the federal government last year.

Currently now, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters said the comatose post-amnesty exercise was being revived. “ We are at the stage of demobilising (camping) and rehabilitating the militants”.

He stated that when this was finally achieved, the militants would be re-integrated into the society. Nevertheless, he insisted that the long term solution was to provide infrastructure and the upgradement of the human resources of oil bearing communities.

“By emasculating the minority groups and if the economic oppression persist, then militancy would not be eradicated”, he warned.

Governor’s of Delta and Kano states, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, Ibrahim, Shekarau and the Deputy Governor of Lagos who represented Governor Babtunde Fashola, all stressed the need for good governance as  pathway to peace and development in the country.

Shekarau declared, “ unless we return back to attitudinal change and patriotism, then we can’t have peace and development in the country”.

As the two day conference drew to a close , one thing according to WEF President, Mr. Pecquerie was missing: “ The editors didn’t thoroughly discuss core professional issues. The number of governor were too much.

On the other hand, he observed, “ Perhaps they know why they invited them and I am also happy that the editors have formed such a forum. I think it is a beginning for professional development.

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Most popular toys in 2018

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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.

 

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CRFFN Registers 5000 Freight Forwarders

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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.

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The Impeachment Blues in Abia

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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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