Imo State Deputy Governor, Mr Eze Madumere, has denied any wrongdoing to warrant the impeachment notice served on him by the State House of Assembly on Tuesday.
In a statement signed his Special Assistant, Mr Uche Onwuchekwa, Madumere described the allegations levelled against him as embarrassing and an old ploy of calling a dog a bad name to hang it.
The impeachment notice signed by 13 members of the house accused the deputy governor of being an ex-convict and disobedience to Governor Rochas Okorocha, among other alleged infringements.
“Office of Deputy Governor of Imo State has received the notice of gross misconduct being circulated round the state and on various platforms on social media platforms signed by 13 members of Imo State House of Assembly that bothers on the following,” the aide said.
The allegations include: “1.Absence without official reason or permission duly obtained from office for a period of three (3) months
2 .Failure to perform any of the constitutional function of Office of Deputy Governor of Imo State including but not limited to: a.Failure/refusal to attend constitutionally mandated proceedings of the State Executive Council; b.Failure/refusal to attend constitutional mandated proceedings of the State Security Council”.
“3. Refusal to attend, and to hold meetings with the governor and commissioners of Government of Imo State for the governance of Imo State made compulsory by and under S.193 (2) of the 1999 Constitution
4. Concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as eligible candidate of Office of Deputy Governor, Imo State, having been convicted and imprisoned for theft in the United States of America”.
But the Imo Deputy Governor called the allegations spurious and a figment of the imagination of the House.
“The first claim of absence is rather an old ploy of calling a dog a bad name to hang it. Fortunately, the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Madumere, is an administrator par excellence who does not joke with his duties especially his constitutional responsibilities. As such, he has never absconded from office during the period so claimed.”
While noting that the deputy governor is constitutionally saddled with the responsibilities of superintending the boundary commission, Onwuchekwa said that ”by our records, the Deputy Governor of Imo State has never abdicated from such responsibility.”
“People of Umuoma of Ihitte-Uboma local government, Ihube of Okigwe local government among others can testify of the Deputy Governor’s sagacity in crises resolution with particular reference to April 11, April 16 2018. He also participated in one day retreat for Stakeholders in the management of Nigeria boundaries, which held in Airforce Conference Center, Abuja in the company of Surveyor General of the State and Principal Secretary to the Deputy Governor on May 7th 2018,” he added.
On the allegation of refusal to attend constitutionally mandated proceedings of the State Executive Council, the deputy governor said it is also one of the allegations that cannot stand any administrative procedure as there are laid down procedures through which a deputy governor or any member of the executive council can be invited for executive council meeting.
“We hereby state that the deputy governor has never been invited for such meetings through either a memo or any official notices and thereby cannot stand against the deputy governor. The deputy governor can only attend a meeting he is officially invited to and he is no spirit to know when meetings are slated except he is duly informed”, he said.
On allegation of refusal to attend, and to hold meetings with the governor, Madumere said the allegation “is to say the least another exercise in triviality as the deputy governor cannot force himself on the governor especially when he has been tagged a pariah in the government circle”.
“We state here that Governor Okorocha has never created such opportunity to meet with the Deputy Governor to discuss the programmes and activities of the government other than the ones we embarrassingly hears by the road side and other sources”.
“To this extent, where the deputy governor’s inputs are needed, there are right procedures through which he could be reached either through his principal secretary and other principal officers or directly to the deputy governor.”
Madumere further described the allegation of being a felon as the most embarrassing.
“The most embarrassing among the spurious allegations is the annoying allegation of concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as eligible candidate of office of Deputy Governor of Imo State,” he said.
While stating that the allegation is not only astonishing but an extreme show of lack of due diligence, Madumere declared that he has never been convicted of any civil matter let alone a criminal matter.
He said the most painful part of the allegation is that the two times the he had to go through the pains of losing his freedom in detention were all in the course of saving Governor Rochas Okorocha from public disgrace.
“He rather had to carry Okorocha’s cross and bore his shame. It would be recalled that Madumere shortly after Achike Udenwa’s victory at the polls in 1999 where he had to face contempt of Court for failure to make it to the court. He was in detention in United States for about one month all because he was delayed by Mr Okorocha. To the glory of God, Madumere was acquitted of all allegations.
“The second time he had to stoop that Governor Okorocha may be spared of the humiliation of getting incarcerated was on the eve of 2011 gubernatorial elections, Madumere again yielded and was detained for almost two months on phony charges, which he has also been absolved of all charges.”
The deputy governor therefore challenged members of the House of Assembly to produce the verdicts of the court that convicted him.
The lawmakers on Tuesday set up a six-member committee headed by Kennedy Ibe, member representing Obowo Local Government Area, to probe the allegations and report back to the House within seven days.
Madumere had fallen out with Governor Rochas Okorocha over succession to the governorship seat next year when Mr Okorocha ends his second term.
Okorocha, an All Progressive Congress (APC) governor, is backing his In-law, MrUche Nwosu, against Madumere who is also in the race.
The deputy governor was said to have pitched tent with another faction to wrest control of the APC from Okorocha during the party’s ward, local government and state congresses.
But the Federal High Court recently cancelled the congresses, following a suit by some supporters of Okorocha. The court also ordered fresh ones.
The impeachment plot has been brewing for sometime now and is a continuation of the battle for 2019 between the duo.
The House had last month suspended four lawmakers for being allegedly loyal to the deputy governor and opposing the impeachment plot.
Another, lawmaker representing Oru West LGA, Donatus Onuigwe, who opposed the impeachment proceedings during Tuesday’s plenary was also suspended by the Speaker.