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Abia: The Beginning Of Liberation Politics?

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Orji’s defection to APGA was given the garb of immediacy and rapidity by the overtly perceived antagonism of the Esin–led national leadership of PPA, and, remotely, by irreconcilable differences between the governor and his predecessor cum political godfather, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.

Not a few Abia State indigenes were  jolted by the decision of the state Governor, Chief Theodore Ahamefula Orji, to quit the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).  Orji took the million dollar “liberation” decision on June 28, 2010 via a letter titled “Withdrawal of My Membership from PPA” to his former Urban Ward 1 Chairman. The letter was copied to the appropriate authorities, including national chairman of PPA, Chief Larry Esin.

Barely 24 hours after dumping PPA, Orji pitched his tent with All Peoples Grand Alliance (APGA). Orji’s defection to APGA was given the garb of immediacy and rapidity by the overtly perceived antagonism of the Esin–led PPA national leadership of PPA, and, remotely, by irreconcilable differences between the governor and his predecessor cum political godfather, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu.

Special Assistant to the Governor on Print Media, Chief Joshua Nnayere-Ogbonna, said Orji would not have stormed out of PPA but for the brazen display of hatred by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC). “The governor would not have left PPA if Larry Esin (PPA National Chairman) did not do what he did some days ago,” said Nnayere-Ogbonna,

The NWC had summoned Orji to the PPA National headquarters, Abuja, on June 24, 2010 to answer charges of non-performance. The governor shunned the belligerent invitation but wrote that he be given two weeks to appear before the party leadership.

The Abia governor was summoned along side the Board of Trustees (BoT) chairman, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu (OUK) and Senator Uche Chukwumerije. But supporters of the governor say the other two invitations were just to fulfill all righteousness as the governor was the main target of the summons.

Peeved by the governor’s effrontery in shunning the summons, the PPA national leadership read its riot act to the governor, giving him August deadline to “respond” to issues they raised. The party’s stand on the Abia governor was read by the PPA national chairman. Among other things, they charged Orji to clear salary arrears owed civil servants in the State, complete all on going roads rehabilitation in Abia; pay the Deputy Governor, Comrade Chris Akomas, all his outstanding entitlements and make up with OUK.

This move was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Orji said the party passed judgment without hearing his own side and believed that his interest would no longer be protected in PPA. So, he took the quit option, in contrast to his earlier vow that no one can push him away from PPA.  

At a meeting with PPA faithful on April 7, 2010 at the 66 Aba Road secretariat of the party  in Umuahia, Orji said that apart from the Kalu family, he was the next biggest financier of the party, adding that having contributed immensely to the formation and funding of PPA, anyone believing that he will leave the party was but a wishful thinker. That grand standing has obviously been discarded. 

Explaining his decision to leave PPA, Orji told the people of Umuawa, an Ohuhu Community, who came on a solidarity visit, penultimate Thursday that he had to leave  PPA to liberate Abia.

“The PPA was no longer ready to protect me, rather they are ready to push me to the world and portray me as useless and that the party is not responsible for my uselessness. What I have done is to save my face. That’s the only alternative. I have to prove to the world that I am myself. So I’ve removed myself from the clutches of the PPA. By so doing, I’ve also removed all the people of Abia state from the clutches of PPA. It is not an easy decision to take, but I had to take it because of our children and because of tomorrow,”  he said amidst applause from the people. 

Garry Allen, an American Journalist and his colleague, who authored “None Dare Call It Conspiracy,” an expose on the plot of influential politicians and business moguls to control world affairs through floating the United Nations, remarked that in politics, nothing happens by accident. He contended that anything that happens is designed to happen the way it happened.

The decision by Governor Orji to Quit PPA did not take close watchers of Abia politics by surprise. Many believed it was bound to happen and has actually been long in coming. The opposition PDP had alleged at the inception of Orji’s administration that he would not last more than six months in office. They had posited that the PPA founder and financier, OUK, had a sinister grand plot to elevate his younger sibling, Mr. Mascot Uzor Kalu, who until June 30, was the Chief of Staff, to the position of Governor.

According to PDP, Kalu was planning to impeach Orji and replace him with his deputy, Akomas, who, after sometime, would equally be impeached. They alleged that this would pave the way to install Mascot as the “de facto governor,” to enable the Kalu political dynasty maintain its strangle hold on Abia politics.

May be the PDP even helped to keep Orji in the saddle this long because of its predictions on the future of PPA and impending implosion in the party, its unrelenting, ferocious legal challenge of the PPA victory of the governorship polls in 2007. The legal battles have gone full – cycle and is now at what seems to be its final bus stop: the Owerri Division of the Court Appeal, for a retrial.

Both Orji and his estranged godfather, Kalu, have been faithful to the golden rule of Nigerian politics: denying the obvious in public. Both have persistently, consistently and fervently maintained that there was no schism between them. Orji has consistently maintained that he was in charge, that neither Kalu nor his mother, Eunice, was calling the shot. The governor’s aides have since ensured that the refrain did not die, telling those that cares to listen that TA or Ochendo, as the governor is popularly called, was in charge.  

Truth be told, Kalu has physically maintained his distance from the Abia seat of power since he left office in May 2007. He only made a dramatic pubic appearance at the Umuahia Township Stadium during the 2008 Democracy Day celebration where he declared that he does not in any way interfere in Orji’s administration.

 But the way the former governor surrounded Orji with aides not just loyal to him (OUK) but who were serving until his exit from power led many to suspect ulterior motive on the part of the ex-governor. Upon leaving office, OUK ensured that the governor inherited his domestic staff in Government House, security personnel, ADC, Driver etc. This made observers to raise eye brows. Observers saw it as a strategy to keep a close tab on Orji and to ensure regular information flow on the governor’s activities.  

When it was time for appointments into the state executive council, sources at Government House disclosed that all members of the cabinet were chosen by Kalu and his mother. Orji lent credence to this rumour when he declared during the inauguration of his first cabinet that he did not know many of the commissioners and was meeting them for the very first time but expressed hope that those who nominated them were confident that they could deliver. 

When Orji dissolved that cabinet and sought to bring in some of his own men into the second cabinet, he was said to have met a brick wall. Sources alleged that he was only given very few slots which he rejected. 

It was gathered that when Orji could not have his way, he left for the United States of America “to cool off.” This, according to sources, contributed to the delay in constituting the second cabinet of the administration inaugurated on July 10, 2009. That cabinet which lasted less than a year was dissolved on Monday, June 28, 2010, in the wake of the present rift between the governor and PPA. 

Furthermore, it was gathered that the immediate past council administrators, from chairmen to councilors, all were alleged to be candidates of the Kalus. An observer said this accounted for why neither the governor nor the House of the Assembly mustered the political will to sanction the local government  chairmen over their inability to pay workers salaries, some of them, for as long as one year! 

Board appointments, according to our sources, were not different as the Kalus ensured that only their candidates got the jobs. Given this scenario, many had queried why Orji, an executive governor, could not assert his influence and authority in running the state. Many others said that OUK just gave Orji the yam and held onto the knife.

 Most of the governor’s kinsmen have been so much piqued that they openly called on the governor to break away from the Kalu family and assert his authority. One of such people is Prince Benjamin B. Apugo. The influential PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) member has always admitted working for the emergence of Orji as governor. Little wonder when he paid Orji a courtesy visit shortly after his assumption of office, Apugo warned Orji “to distance himself from OUK if he desires to serve Abia people well.

In response, Orji, at that meeting, threatened to resign if he came under intense pressure. The strong man of Abia politics, Apugo, kept lambasting Orji for non – performance, but by late last year, he changed tone and urged Abians to pressurize Orji to free himself from the bondage of the Kalus and use Abia allocation to develop the state. He alleged that PPA was determining what Abia resources should be used for instead of the governor and laid the blame of the governor’s low performance on the door steps of PPA.

“If Abia’s allocations get to Abia State, T.A will use it to work. I am calling on Abians to put pressure on Governor T.A.Orji to perform in the remaining one and half years of his tenure.  If T.A.Orji leaves office without doing anything concrete, the people that will challenge him will say the Ibeku-born T.A.Orji and it will affect me. That is why I am shouting that he should forget about reporting to anybody and use the allocations of the state to develop Abia,” Apugo told newsmen at his Nkata-Ibeku country home.

“The Governor should pick up courage and do things for the interest of Abia people. Heaven would not get loose. He should come closer to the people that voted him in. He should not turn his back on the people because of PPA,” he added. 

In the midst of the whole milieu, Orji kept his cool, assuring Abians that he was fully in charge. However, signs of cracks between PPA and Orji began to emerge by middle of last year.  The Ibeku people had gone to the Camp Neya, Igbere, country home of OUK to thank him for making their son governor. They equally used the opportunity to ask that Orji be allowed to do a second term. They had expected an unfettered approval by the PPA BOT chairman. But OUK spoke tongue in cheek.

He told them that the performance of the governor would determine whether he would return to Government House or not, meaning that he could not guarantee automatic ticket for Orji. OUK added that it was the responsibility of the party to pick its candidate at the appropriate time, through primaries. The Ibeku people read in between the lines and were not amused. After that visit, things were never the same again. The battle line was drawn.  When Elder Kalu Eke held sway as Abia PPA chairman, everything was smooth sailing. It was gathered that the PPA NWC pressurized Eke to step aside on account of his alleged closeness to Orji. In came Ezeogo Emeka Onouha. No sooner had he settled down as the new chairman of Abia PPA than he bared his fangs. He quickly banned all Pro–Ochendo groups, which, at the material time, was multiplying by the day. It was said that Chinedu, the governor’s son, is the promoter of the pro– Ochendo groups, dominated by Ibeku people, the governor’s kinsmen. Those close to the groups say they are to serve as the war chest for his father’s re-election.

A PPA source hinted that ‘the groups were not banned for any reasons of hatred for or resistance to Orji’s re-election bid, but because the governor allegedly failed to implement an agreement to revive the structures which were used for his election in 2007.  Rather than do so, the governor’s camp was said to have created the pro-Ochendo groups, dumping those who worked for his election. This did not go down well with members of the party who are not of the Ibeku stock.

When the ban order was issued, the governor was said to have ordered the groups to obey it and suspend their activities. But it was too late for the foot soldiers of both camps (the Orji and the OUK camps) to hold back their bottled-up anger.

A war of attrition ensued. While the OUK foot soldiers, through several advertorials, accused Orji of biting the finger that fed him, the Orji group charged back that it was Orji Uzor Kalu that should be grateful to incumbent governor for being faithful to him in the eight years he served as governor, adding that if the governor squeals, OUK will be in goal over the charges of money laundering pending in court against him. 

The tirades were so hot to the extent that the governor’s foot soldiers urged him to be brave enough to break free from his mentor and assert himself. However, both Orji and Kalu continued to paper the cracks of a sagging relationship.   Matters came to a head this year when Orji was said to have discovered a grand plot by the PPA to supplant him with his Deputy who it was alleged was being considered as candidate by the party for the 2011 governorship poll.

The schism between Orji and his party deepened when the Deputy Chief of Staff, and the governor’s kinsman and arch supporter, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya, was arrested and interrogated at the state CID Umuahia for allegedly plotting to kill the Deputy Governor because he wanted to contest for governorship

 ”The truth is that I was detained for five hours at the SCID by a team of Police officers from the IG’s office. The Security officer to the Deputy Governor alleged that I and others were planning to eliminate the Deputy Governor. The security officers alleged that I went to Nenu with a squad to kill the Deputy Governor but when I did not succeed I came back to Umuahia to reduce his (Deputy Governor’s) security personnel.”

“The Police said that I wanted kill the Deputy Governor because he wants to contest  the governorship election and I told them that that was not to my knowledge and if he (Deputy Governor) had asked me I will tell him that he was not qualified, not academically, but by the Abia Zoning arrangement.”

While the frosty relations between the governor and his Deputy lasted (and may actually be going beyond redemption), Orji declared to the media that he has cordial relations with his deputy, even as a source in the deputy governor’s office hinted that the governor was starving that office of funds.

As both the governor and his deputy drifted, Kalu was said to have intervened and invited the duo to Igbere. After listening to them, Kalu was said to have apportioned greater blame to the governor and asked him to take urgent steps to repair the damage already done and arrest further decline. 

On the heels of the Igbere meeting came the PPA summon to the governor to appear before the NWC to defend his non – performance. When the governor failed to honour the invitation, OUK flashed the red card when he was quoted in the media as saying that Orji was free to join any party of his choice.  This was quickly followed by the party’s riot act to the governor in which he was given August Deadline.

Though the party did not give hint of any sanction that awaited Orji, for the governor, publicising his summon by the party was enough insult and embarrassment; issuing him with ultimatum when he has not been heard amounted to adding salt to injury. He could not take more of these. He mustered the courage, damned the consequences and bolted away to APGA. 

Ugochukwu Emezue said the decision by the governor was in response to the clarion call on him to leave PPA for a more friendly political party by the people of Abia State. Chief ACB Agbazuere also hailed the governor’s move as “liberations for Abians.”

 Ohuhu People’s Congress (OPC) holds same view. its Chairman, Uzor Umunna, said in a statement that “ it is a right step in the right direction geared towards librating Abians from mamacracy and papacracy. By this move, Chief Orji has proved to Abians that he is a man of honour and principles.”

The development has brought about political re – engineering in Abia. And the colour and clout of Abia politics is changing.

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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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