Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime, in this interactive session with journalists, in Enugu, reacts to the impeachment notice he was issued by members of the state House of Assembly.
Some members of Enugu State House of Assembly, led by the Speaker, Eugene Odo, directed the Clerk of the House to serve you an impeachment notice. What is your reaction to the development?
These are people, characters, who have been so frustrated. Characters who could not get what they bargained for, trying to be – and I am using this word advisably – stupid. People who are trying to be very stupid. I have been hearing all sorts of things as their reasons for the recent attacks on my lieutenants – Heads of Departments, Commissioners – the spate of attacks on them. Thereabouts a month or so ago, they were calling all sorts of people, inviting all sorts of people, questioning them on things that happened even in my first tenure. So, I want to address, first of all, the issue of their dream impeachment. I have called documents. I know what they are doing will never see the light of the day, but I want my defence to see the light of the day. I have brought here the Constitution as amended. And I will bore you with the provisions of the Constitution relating to impeachment, which I am not quite sure that they are aware of, because the office of Governor is not like Speaker. You can blow siren to your office and go home with Okada. The office of governor is a very serious office; you don’t just wake up one morning and you start thinking about impeaching a governor.
The Constitutional provisions –
The section that deals with that is section 188 of the Constitution. It deals with how the Governor or Deputy Governor may be removed from office. The first initial step is that at least one third of the members of the House of Assembly are required to sign a notice of allegation of gross misconduct against the holder of the office. That is the Governor or Deputy Governor. And they present it to the Speaker. So, at this stage they are not required to sit. They just sit down in their homes and sign the allegations. And in this case, we have 24 members. The constitution provides for at least 24 members of the House of Assembly. So, we have the least number of House of Assembly members. So, at least eight of them are expected to sign that notice of impeachment, alleging that I am guilty of gross misconduct, since I am referencing to myself. Of course, the Speaker is not expected to be a signatory because he is meant to be the recipient, the addressee.
What should the Speaker have done?
So, the Speaker, under Sub-Section 2 of that Section, is required within seven days to cause a copy of that notice to be served on me, like I said, in this instance, and on all members of the House of Assembly within seven days. After they go through that hurdle, within 14 days of presentation of notice to the Speaker, the House of Assembly is expected or is enjoined to pass a resolution stating that the allegation should be investigated. I am referring to Sun-section 3, “Within 14 days of the presentation, the Speaker of the House of Assembly is expected to serve the holder of the office, whether or not any statement was made by the holder of the office. It is actually immaterial whether I reply or not. Whether or not I make a statement is immaterial. The Speaker must get the House of Assembly to resolve, by motion during debate, whether the gross misconduct shall be investigated. And subsection 4 says, “A motion of the House of Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed unless it is supported by the votes of at least two thirds majority of all the members of the House of Assembly.” All these talk about suspension, bla bla bla, so long as you are a member of the House of Assembly, you are part of this. So, you need two-thirds of all the members. In our case it is 16. Let me stop here for now. I have seen an article – my nephew copied it from the internet. I have a copy of it here.
What is the article talking about?
From the article and, of course, I have gotten information from my people, I understand that some members of the House of Assembly went there in very early hours of this morning and passed whatever resolution that I should be impeached or that I should be investigated. I am not quite sure what stage of this process that they are in. Is it the stage of presenting the allegation, in which case, two thirds will do. In this case, they don’t have to sit. So, sitting in the early hours of this morning to me, was nonsense. They didn’t have to sit if it was actually presentation of allegation. But, if by any whatever, this article is referring to a motion that I be really investigated, the Constitution clearly requires that two thirds majority is the minimum to pass that resolution. And that must have been after I have been served. Nobody has served me any notice of any allegation. So, I am not quite sure what they intended to achieve this morning. Certainly, if they are talking about a resolution that I should be really investigated, passed that resolution to investigate me, that will pass two-thirds. By their won resolution, 14 members including the Speaker who shouldn’t even be counted. So, in their own case, it was 13 members who purportedly passed the resolution. So, you can see that they have not activated anything. They are yet to activate the process. So, we are waiting until they are able to activate it. This way they are suspending everybody. They may not even get their two thirds again. If everybody is on suspension, I wonder who will now vote for them. So, until they get the House of Assembly to approve and that must be done in two weeks, 14 days according to the constitution. That should be their business, the 16 of them including the speaker to go round to lobby members, to make sure that I am investigated. When that now happens, within seven days of passing that motion, if they ever pass that stage, the CJ at the instance of the Speaker, will now be enjoined to appoint a panel of seven persons in his opinion, bla, bla, bla, that is talking about their qualification to investigate the allegation. The panel appointed under this Section-Subsection 7B shall within three month of its appointment report its findings to the House of Assembly. So, I don’t know whether this panel they are trying to set up will be investigating me or the incoming Governor because before they set up the panel, I am out of this place oh. May be, they will come to my village Udi and investigate me and then remove me from office after I had left. So, that is the stupidity and folly in what they want to do. I was surprised when I heard that Channels aired that report. I was surprised because Channels as abig institution, a respectable institution should have a legal team. It should have a legal department. Under the constitution, no state has less than 24members of the House. So, they should have known that 14 members cannot activate this process or forcing anybody to be investigated. You need at least two thirds. Of course, so many states have larger number of members. Kano has about 40 members. Some states have many members but the minimum is 24. In no state can you cause a governor to be investigated with less than 16 members of the House endorsing that motion for the person to be investigated. If they had been aware of this, I am sure that in reporting, somebody made attempt to investigate, they should have clearly said that it is a failed attempt to investigate the Governor of the state. Are you saying the impeachment process against you has failed? From the onset it failed. From tomorrow, you start hearing that CJ has refused to set up a panel. They have not initiated. So, no CJ will listen to them. This is Constitution.
One of the allegations against you was that you forged the 2012 supplementary budget. Can you react to this?
Now, let us go to the real meat. According to my friend’s article, I hear that the allegation against me was that I forged the 2012 supplementary budget. You know, the thing is so confusing. This report said that I forged the N12 billion2012 supplementary budget. There is no such thing. N12 billion! I will tell you, every year, it is on record that the accounts of this State Government, we have been auditing it since 2007 religiously up till last year. I don’t know what we will do this year. Are we going to do half or we will wait for the incoming administration to audit it. We use item report because we have done that up till 2014. Whenever we present budget, we send to the House. Usually we use the office of Attorney General when it comes to anything legislative. For budget, I usually go to the House to read the budget. That is just the speech, but the real document, we now submit to them to deliberate upon. And when they pass the budget, it has been our practice to publish it like this. This is for 2013. I just brought the one relevant to what we are doing. If you go to the office of Commissioner for Budget, we’ll publish it, well-bound and circulated. If you go to the House of Assembly, they are there. Now, this is the one they said I forged. You can see it clearly written, Approved Supplementary Budget Estimate 2012. This was the one they said I forged. I am not quite sure they know the meaning of forging. When it comes to budgeting, of course, even before the year, you present your estimates. While the year progresses, you look at what you have done or what you are yet to do. There is something they call virement. I checked that word in the news but I didn’t see it. They call it virement. To vire, that is, re-allocate money. This one meant for microphone, you now say no, put it, I want to buy more books instead of microphone. That was what we did in 2012. 2012 Supplementary Budget did not add a kobo. And I want you to take note of this. The so-called forged document did not add a kobo to the original estimate of the year. And you will see that when we presented the 2013 budget, we referred to the previous year’s budget. You will see it there. Estimate of Enugu State of Nigeria 2013. You will see where we referred to the expenditure size. 2012 budget N76, 459,740,000. That is the original budget and you can see the revised budget or what you now call supplementary budget. It is exactly the same figure. Of course, I couldn’t have printed this thing after their 4.0 clock nocturnal meeting. So, you see it, exactly the same thing. The other thing that changed. Recurrent moved fromN44 billion and came back to N31 billion and the capital moved up from N32billion to N44 billion. This is exactly the same figure. And this was what they said I forged. And when you are out there, you hear the governor forged a document. The wrong impression they want to create is that I have been busy stealing or milking the state dry. We increased this budget to take care of some of our capital projects. That was the same year we started building our secretariat, which is almost completed now. And it will be partially commissioned next week. A section of it has been fully completed and furnished. So, we will commission it and let all those doubting thomases see what we can do or what we have done. So, it was just a question of re-allocating funds. But, they said I forged this document. The question I will like them to answer is, “What was it meant for?” And the beauty of it is that this thing happened when, if you all remember – because you all forget quickly. This thing happened when I was dead oh! This thing happened when you people reported that I had died. I was not even in the country. That was when I forged this document. That was late 2012. I left the shores of this country September 2012 and I didn’t come back until February 2014. And you are all aware of it. And suddenly I was alleged to have forged their document. You can see it was clearly stated in what I presented to them in 2013. So, they saw it. They saw it was revised. Even if it was forged, nobody said anything. In the budget of 2013, it was clearly reflected that there was a revised budget. And they saw it and they passed it. Nobody has called me to say, Oga, what happened, we saw one funny thing in the document. So, I am hearing this allegation of forgery for the first time today and it came to me as a rude shock. Maybe, they will come to terms with the seriousness of the allegation. When you alleged that a Chief Executive, thank God by the next three weeks, I have been here by the grace of God, for eight years. And you wake up and you say that I have been busy stealing. That is as far as the budget goes. That is the only allegation they have against me.
Are you referring to the notice of impeachment?
I have not seen their notice. When they send me, I will now confirm whether the article quoted them correctly. But I have also heard about this allegation that whatever is happening in the House of Assembly was caused by their failure to approve the loan of N11 billion. Luckily, they have not accused me of forging their resolution. This is their resolution. This is the original copy of their resolution dated13th November 2013. Not the recent. And I will read it. This is a letter addressed to me by the Clerk of the House. The title is: “Resolution of the Hon. House authorizing the State Government to obtain loans of N1 billion and N10billion respectively, from United Bank for Africa Plc, to finance infrastructure from GT Bank and fund infrastructure development.