Agbaso’s Untidy Removal

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THE impeachment of the former Deputy Governor of Imo State, Mr Jude Agbaso, by the Imo State House of Assembly on 28 March 2013 left many unanswered questions.

It followed in the tradition of the mélange of impeachments witnessed under our renascent democracy, where the spirit and letters of our laws and the Constitution are discarded to feather the political nests of powerful forces.

Confusion is trailing the exercise. It is firmly rooted in the details of the alleged N458 million bribe taken from a Lebanese construction firm, L-PROS. It was evident in the irregular manner in which Agbaso was removed. Were the constitutional procedures observed?

Imo State voters who chose Mr Rochas Okorocha as Governor and Agbaso as his Deputy, on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, have the right to know whether, Agbaso was guilty of the offence or a victim of trumped up charges.

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The impeachment process, if followed in accordance with Section 188 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, would have provided all the answers.

In the hurried way it was conducted, the owner of the account into which the amount was found was not established and there was no conclusive proof of Agbaso’s culpability. The Imo State House of Assembly appeared uninterested in those details.

Constitutional provisions could have been violated. This would interest anyone who respects the Constitution. The panel to probe the allegations was constituted on 28 March. The Constitution provides for the findings to be sent to the House within three months.

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It is considered enough time to investigate the allegations, but if the matter was concluded earlier, the time frame would not count against the outcome. The accused was expected to present his case. Agbaso was impeached on the same 28 March the panel had its inaugural sitting. He had no chance to make his case.

More intriguing was the swearing in of the new Deputy Governor, Mr. Eze Madumere, who was former Okorocha’s Chief of Staff, without any evidence of his being screened by the House of Assembly as constitutionally required.

Agbaso surprisingly applied to withdraw a suit he had instituted before Justice Florence Duruohaigwe of Owerri High Court.

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He wanted to prove his innocence. How would the public know the truth? How would he prove his innocence in the matter? How would the damage the State House of Assembly caused by abridging the Constitution be repaired?

This case is not merely about Agbaso and his individual predicament. It is more about the disregard for the Constitution, in addressing issues that are purely constitutional.

Nigerians want to know the truth about this saga even if the House does not.



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