By Emma Iheaka
Since last week, stories have been making the rounds about impeachment plot against the speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu. Media report had it that an impeachment axe is dangling on the speaker, that the speaker is currently on a hot seat.
The state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is scheming the impeachment, so said the report. The story claimed that the governor was piqued that the leadership of the Assembly allowed the swearing-in of the member for Oguta Constituency, Prince Eugene Dibiagwu. Therefore he has decided to strip Chief Uwajumogu of his exalted position in the Assembly, according to the report.
Governor Okorocha has refuted the report. The governor through his media aide, Ebere Uzuokwa denied plotting for Chief Uwajumogu’s impeachment. The speaker has also dismissed the report as an imagination of the writer.
Whether the report is true or false, the fact is that it is ludicrous for anyone to be irked by the swearing-in of Prince Dibiagwu. It will be unfair for somebody to scheme against the speaker and principal officers of the House because they admitted Prince Dibiagwu into the chamber. The House had no option than to swear-in the member for Oguta who had been certified by INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) as duely elected. So, the Assembly did what it was supposed to do.
Twice the swearing-in was scheduled and twice it was called-off. The Assembly adduced court injunction to explain the second postponement. The APGA (All Progressives Grand Alliance) candidate, Walter Uzonwanne had obtained an injunction from an Owerri high court restraining the swearing-in of Prince Dibiagwu.
Due to the injunction, the Assembly could not swear-in Prince Dibiagwu. But a high court in Mgbidi, Oru West Local Government Area presided over by Justice K.K. Orjiako later vacated the injunction and as well struck out the suit filed by Mr. Uzonwanne. The judge didn’t stop at that. He also took a swipe at Niyi Akintola (SAN), counsel for Mr. Uzonwanne for failing to advise his client properly. Justice Orjiako said the suit was a deliberate attempt to scuttle the swearing-in of Prince Dibiagwu since the matter was purely that of tribunal.
Having vacated the injunction, there was no impediment any longer. The coast became clear for swearing-in Dibiagwu. And the Assembly had no alternative to doing the right thing. In fact, if the House had failed to swear-in Dibiagwu, it would have demeaned itself. The Assembly would have lost any respect it has. The speaker knew this fact, hence the swearing-in.
Failing to swearing-in Dibiagwu would have backfired on Governor Okorocha. The governor had told newspaper publishers in the state during a breakfast meeting that the Appeal Court’s ruling that election held in seven out of the 11 wards of Oguta Constituency was targeted at him. Governor Okorocha said allowing the swearing-in of Dibiagwu will go against his own election. He believes the Appeal Court’s verdict could serve as an evidence against him in the suit challenging the legality of the supplementary poll that produced him as governor. Candidate for the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 governorship poll, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume filed the suit. The implication in the governor’s statement is that he was working against Dibiagwu’s swearing-in to protect his own election. But at last Dibiagwu was sworn-in.
Now that the swearing-in has taken place, should Governor Okorocha be bitter? Should the governor fight Chief Uwajumogu? Should he seek the speaker’s downfall? He has no reason to do that. It will be naïve and irrational for the governor to plot for the speaker’s impeachment because the latter allowed Dibiagwu’s swearing-in. The governor would be fighting an unjust battle if he does that. It will amount to fighting a just man, a persecution which will not speak well of the governor.
Chief Uwajumogu rather saved Governor Okorocha the castigation and bashing he would have received from the people of the state, Nigerians and beyond if Dibiagwu was not sworn-in. No doubt the people would have tongue-lashed the governor. The governor was already battling with the local government impasse. The state was tensed, he had already been tagged a lawless governor. Insisting on not swearing-in Dibiagwu would have dragged the governor’s name to the mud.
Also, refusing to swear-in Dibiagwu would have resulted in committing contempt of court. The holy book, Bible said that there is a way that seems right to a man but leads to destruction. Refusing to swear-in Dibiagwu after the injunction was vacated and the suit thrown out would have become such a way the bible meant. The way might have seemed right to Governor Okorocha because he wanted to defend his election, but it was liable to destroying his reputation. Perhaps, the governor was not properly advised.
It is not wrong to challenge the outcome of the poll in Oguta Constituency. But it is proper to do it the right way. And the proper place to seek redress is in the tribunal. There is something the governor seems not to understand. Whether he allows Dibiagwu’s swearing-in or not, the verdict of the Appeal Court on the Oguta election on April 26, 2011 stands. This is no contrary or superior judgement on the matter. The verdict could still be adduced as evidence or made reference to.
So, the best thing the governor should do if he is uncomfortable is to attack the judgement and not the beneficiary of the judgement. Attacking the beneficiary (Dibiagwu) will portray him as being desperate and lawless. And fighting the executor of the judgement (Uwajumogu) will depict intolerance and extremism.
So if Governor Okorocha had nursed the feeling or contemplated fighting Chief Uwajumogu for allowing the swearing-in of Dibiagwu, he should refrain from that. Let him not even be tempted into attempting such an act. It will be an unwise act.
Chief Uwajumogu has been a co-missionary in the rescue mission in the state. The governor initiating a fight against the speaker is tantamount to a brother fighting a brother and a player tackling his team mate. This is bad and unthinkable. A Kingdom divided against itself can hardly stand.
Chief Uwajumogu believes that a legislature is meant to work hand-in-hand with the executive arm to ensure that the state is developed, to make life better for the people. Rendering an account of stewardship of the House within one year of its inauguration, the speaker told journalists that the legislature is not there to flex its muscle by unnecessarily engaging the executive in a battle. Chief Uwajumogu does not delight in fighting but working for the transformation of the state.
When the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Imo State Chapter was owing newspaper publishers in the state, I remember Chief Uwajumogu intervened in the matter. The Transition Committee chairmen had offered congratulatory messages on Governor Okorocha’s 100 days in office at the behest of the state Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Gerry Okolie. The sponsors of the advertisements disappointed in the deal. They failed to pay.
At a point, the publishers exhausted their patience. They were about revolting against the act. The speaker was one of those that intervened in the disaffection that crept in. Chief Uwajumogu mediated as the Senate President, David Mark did during the industrial unrest caused by fuel subsidy removal. Chief Mark became the mediator between President Goodluck Jonathan and the organized labour, as Chief Uwajumogu did between Imo state government and newspaper publishers.
It will equally be irresponsible if members of the House succumb to any parochial interest to impeach the speaker despite the infrastructural revolution going on in the Assembly complex. Well I know money could becloud the sense of reasoning of some gullible persons. Chief Uwajumogu is currently renovating and refurbishing the Assembly complex to a taste. This is a good omen. There is no record of financial recklessness, abuse of office or breach of constitution against Chief Uwajumogu. So, on which grounds could he be impeached? Or do they want to fabricate an allegation against him? Do they want to give a dog a bad name to hang it?
Well, let me believe that this story is not real. I want to accept that all is well.
Credit to www.nigerianewspoint.com