Members of the Enugu State House of Assembly on Tuesday impeached the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi.
Onyebuchi’s impeachment followed his indictment by a seven-man panel of inquiry, which investigated allegations levelled against him by members of the Enugu State House of Assembly.
The panel, in its report, held that Onyebuchi was guilty of the allegations brought against him.
“The allegations of gross misconduct levelled against the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, by the Enugu State House of Assembly have been proved,” the panel, headed by Mr. Franklin Oraekeyi, stated in the report.
The members of the house adopted the report of the panel after the House Leader, Hon. S.K.E. Udeh-Okoye, moved a motion for its adoption.
Ude-Okoye, who sponsored the motion on notice alongside 21 other members of the house, numbered HM/06/2014, noted that the motion was in line with the provisions of section 188 (9) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which provided for the removal of members of the executive arm of government.
The motion called for a resolution of the house to consider the report of the investigation panel on the allegations of gross misconduct of the deputy governor, and that the house, having carefully considered the report of the investigative panel, “do adopt it.”
Onyebuchi was accused of running an illegal poultry in his official residence, an offence according to a resolution of the house, and also refusing to represent Governor Sullivan Chime at official functions, in spite of a directive from the governor.
The lawmakers, in the impeachment notice, held that the said actions amounted to grosss misconduct on Onyebuchi’s part.
The deputy governor had denied the allegations, insisting that he was witch-hunted for expressing an intention to contest the seat of the Enugu East Senatorial Zone, which is said to be reserved for the governor’s Chief of Staff, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo.
PUNCH reports that Onyebuchi’s position became shaky after the lawmakers commenced impeachment proceedings against him on July 23.
The impeachment saga was eventually tagged ‘Enugu chicken impeachment’ as most of the testimonies presented before the impeachment panel centered on the poultry operated by Onyebuchi in his official residence.
The panel was told that the stench from the poultry was an embarrassment to the state government, which had to relocate the chickens in order to check the offensive odour.
It was also alleged that the poultry constituted severe health hazards to residents, staff and visitors in the government house.
But Onyebuchi, who claimed that he was not aware of the whereabouts of the chickens since they were moved, retaliated by alleging that the governor also operated an official poultry and piggery in the Government House.
He pointed to sums allocated to the said poultry and piggery in the state’s budget to justify his claim.
However, in a statement, Chime’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Chukwudi Achife, denied Onyebuchi’s allegation, explaining that the poultry mentioned by the deputy governor was part of the ‘Agric Unit’ in the Government House, which served both the governor’s and deputy governor’s official residences, as well as the needs of the staff.
Achife disclosed that staff of the agric unit slaughtered a cow at the request of the deputy governor on August 4, 2014 – when Onyebuchi was already facing impeachment.
The deputy governor would have been removed before Wednesday, had the panel not adjourned proceedings for a few days after he slumped while testifying in his own defence on August 18.
Onyebuchi’s lawyers and aides blamed the development on the stress occasioned by the impeachment proceedings.
It is expected that Onyebuchi’s replacement as the deputy governor will be announced very soon.