Governor Chibuike Amaechi

  • Gadzama empanelled to probe Amaechi after suspension
  • Governor:  I wasn’t given fair hearing    

 

Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Ernest Chinwo

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Monday named a lawyer, Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN), to head an 11-member committee it set up to probe Rivers State Governor, Mr. Chibuike  Amaechi, who has been suspended for alleged anti-party activities.

Amaechi’s suspension was the climax of the crisis in the state chapter of the party, which has pitted the governor and his loyalists against another faction led by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, who was the governor’s aide before his ministerial appointment.

The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) said yesterday that the decision to suspend Amaechi was taken at an emergency meeting, which considered  a petition filed by the state chapter of the party, accusing the governor of failure to obey its order to upturn the suspension of the executive council of   Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.

It was gathered that the Rivers State Chairman of PDP, Mr. Felix Obuah, and the Secretary, Mr. Walter Idigba, in a petition, had accused Amaechi of ordering the state House of Assembly to dissolve the Obio/Akpor Local Government executive council.

The council was dissolved last month following a resolution of the legislature that considered the report of a committee of the assembly that probed the council leadership for financial misappropriation.

Displeased by the suspension, the state PDP had ordered the assembly to rescind the dissolution of the council and subsequently suspended 27 of the lawmakers for disobeying its directives.

In a swift reaction to his suspension, which came barely three days after he defeated the PDP anointed candidate for the chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Chief Jonah Jang of Plateau State, Amaechi described the party’s decision as political persecution because he was not given fair hearing.

The Gadzama committee is charged with the responsibility of investigating the role played by the governor in the dissolution of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council.

Other members of the committee are the PDP National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwom, Bola Doherty, Udoji Amedu, Friday Nwosu, Ola Kukuyi, Anelegwe Oneche, Mohammed Wakil, Tamimu Adamson, Yusuf Jangwu and Aniocho Okoro who will serve as the secretary.

Briefing reporters on why the party suspended Amaechi, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, dismissed insinuations that the governor was sanctioned because of the NGF chairmanship election, which he won at  the expense of the party’s anointed candidate.

According to Metuh, “NWC believes that the NGF is a pressure group constituted by elected governors in Nigeria. PDP has no direct dealings with the NGF. We have dealings with the PDP Governors’ Forum, which is a forum of governors elected on the platform of the PDP. We expect governors in NGF to make pronouncements on issues that concern them, but not PDP as a political party”.

Metuh said the PDP constitution whose provisions were activated in suspending Amaechi was approved by the national convention of the party in March 24, 2012, adding that the July 2012 National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting only directed that typographical errors contained in the approved constitution should be corrected.

He therefore said it was not true that the constitution of the party was not approved.
“It is unconstitutional for the NEC to approve a constitution that has been already approved by the national convention,” he said.

He however explained that the suspension of Amaechi was not final, as any further action on his case would be based on the report of the Gadzama committee.

When reminded that it was not Amaechi that suspended the Obio/Akpor Local Government council, but the Rivers State House of Assembly, Metuh said: “This is the aim of the 11-man committee headed by Chief Joe Gadzama. We have not come to condemn the governor; we are only applying the constitution to ensure discipline within the party. As a political party, we are not out to destroy but to build and ensure a disciplined PDP.”

Earlier in the day, the PDP in a statement signed by Metuh said the PDP NWC at its emergency meeting yesterday considered the petition from the state chapter of the party against Amaechi for violating Article 58 of the PDP Constitution by not rescinding his decision dissolving the elected executive council of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.

Article 58 (1) of the party constitution states: “Subject to the provisions of the PDP constitution, the party shall have power to discipline any member who says or does anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt; disobeys or neglects to carry out lawful directives of the party or any organ or officer of the party; engages in any conduct likely to cause disaffection among members of the party or is likely to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient conduct of the business of the party; fails, refuses or neglects to treat a petition, complaints or appeal timorously.”

“The National Working Committee after preliminary hearing, in exercise of the powers conferred by Articles 57 (3), 59 (3), 59 (5) and 29 (2.b), hereby suspends the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, as a member of the PDP and refers the matter to the appropriate disciplinary committee of the party.
“This is in furtherance of the determination of the leadership of the party to enforce discipline at all levels within the party,” the statement said.
  Reacting to his suspension, Amaechi said it was political witch-hunt.
The governor, who spoke yesterday at an interactive session with the youth to mark this year’s Children’s Day, also expressed fears for his life.
He faulted the PDP’s decision to suspend him, saying the verdict came without the party giving him a fair hearing as his alleged offence had nothing to do with him as governor of the state.

He noted with concern the fact that the PDP NWC met as early as 7am to suspend him for not rescinding a decision of the state assembly suspending the elected officials of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council to give room for an investigation into allegations of financial recklessness and security breach.

He said: “I was not invited by the National Working Committee of PDP, I was not given fair hearing. What I heard was that: why did I refuse to reinstate the suspended Obio/Akpor Council executive? Who suspended them?”

The youths at the forum replied: “The Rivers State House of Assembly.”
“Who has the power to investigate Obio/Akpor council executive?” Amaechi asked again.

The youths replied: “The state assembly.”
Continuing, he said: “….So you see the political witch-hunting.  It is so ridiculous. My party (PDP) must rise above political witch-hunting. Governor Amaechi did not suspend Obio/Akpor Council (executive). I hope you know, I have the power and my power is to dissolve.  I can dissolve Obio/Akpor Council (executive).  But I have not done that.  What the assembly is doing is that they are investigating corruption.  But the party said they should not investigate corruption, is it fair?

“If they are not guilty, then they will re-instate them, but if they are guilty, then we will ask for the dissolution of the council.  We have not even gone half, and the party (PDP) says re-instate them.  It means that the party likes corruption.  Let the assembly resume and commence investigation, let’s see what goes on.  Whether there is corruption or not, it is the business of the assembly.  I have been a speaker, and I know the powers of a speaker and the legislature. I used it when I was a speaker”. 

Amaechi urged the police to obey court orders by vacating the Obio/Akpor council premises and allow normalcy to return to the council.
“What are the police still doing at the Obio/Akpor council building?  The court gave an order to the police to vacate Obio/Akpor council, they disobeyed, and the police are still stationed there,” he said.

Amaechi also expressed displeasure over the Obio/Akpor developments that made workers in the state to go on strike, adding that due to the absence of doctors in public hospitals, the government has been transferring patients from public to private hospitals to save lives.

“The federal government does not care; they only stationed police at Obio/Akpor council, even if everybody dies, they don’t care.  Now the whole state will be grounded, because the police have refused to vacate the Obio/Akpor council secretariat. They don’t want to know, we are not important to the federal government, we are not important at all,” Amaechi added.

He urged the youths to offer prayers to God to intervene, stating that there is nothing wrong as governor and a PDP member for him to ask for his rights, which the PDP is now describing as anti-party.

“I will not leave the PDP. I will go to court…. The plane issue is same politics, pure politics. For one year plus, a minister refused to sign import permit. I’m sure you are aware of the House of Representatives Committee report on the plane issue,” he said.

Speaking on the NGF election, Amaechi said: “You will see it on the internet when the governors were voting. All the governors were there and you will also see the counting.  We (governors) agreed to voting, and all the governors voted, so any governor who said he didn’t vote is lying to the nation because all of us are on oath to govern properly, so we should not lie. Every governor voted, you would see the video.

“If we leaders of Nigeria today are refusing to accept the results of a properly organised election supervised by the director-general of the governors’ forum, it is bad.  And somebody brought a paper that was signed in April.  If you check that list, it was signed in April and you brought it on May 24 after the governors have finished voting their chairman into office. That list is not part of our election. There is a rumour that they want to go to court to stop me as NGF chairman. We are ready to meet them in court but they should not go through the back door to get an order,” Amaechi said.

 

Tags: News, Nigeria, Featured, INVESTIGATION, Amaechi’s Suspension, Punishment

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