Revenge Plot Thickens

Posted by Webby on 9/24/2002 1:08:19 AM
Post Comment Revenge Plot Thickens Nigeria

Senate president, House of Representatives speaker face President Olusegun Obasanjo’s wrath. Plot to remove them in progress

By Anza Philips Abuja Bureau

President Olusegun Obasanjo is perfecting secret revenge against his perceived ‘enemies’—Anyim Pius Anyim, and Ghali Umar Na’Abba, Senate president and speaker, House of Representatives respectively, for their role in the impeachment process against him.

The president, Newswatch learnt, is evolving a series of strategies to get the leaders of the two legislative houses roped into one form of scandal or the other to get them impeached or prosecuted.

This is coming on the heels of the resolve of the House of Representatives to go on with the impeachment process despite spirited mediatory moves between the legislators and the president by the 10-member committee of the People’s Democratic Party set up by Audu Ogbeh, the party’s national chairman.

Obasanjo’s moves must have been informed by the increasing number of members of the house that have so far signed the impeachment papers. As at Tuesday, September 10, 2002 , 200 members had signed the impeachment notice.

The number represents the mandatory one-third, as provided by section 143 of the 1999 constitution before which an impeachment notice can be forwarded to the Senate president for onward passage to the president. Farouk Lawan, the chairman of information committee of the house told Newswatch that the house, apart from meeting the required one-third signatories was poised towards getting the two-thirds needed to impeach the president.

Newswatch investigation reveals that there are moves to effect the impeachment of the Senate president. A source told Newswatch that N500 million had been set aside by the presidency for this purpose. The amount is kept with a controversial senator from Imo State . Already, three senators from the South-East are said to have been notified to stand/nby as likely replacement for Anyim.

Farouk Adejoh-Audu, chief press secretary to Na’Abba, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, September, 15, 2002 , said there was a desperate plot to incriminate the speaker of the house by some branch of the security and intelligence agencies working on the directive of the presidency. He said the State Security Services, SSS and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, had in the past few weeks embarked on a diabolical journey of discovery to frame the speaker with spurious offences in a desperate effort to divert attention from constitutional process being embarked upon by the two arms of the national assembly.

“These agencies are collaborating with some renegade members of the house to bring charges of treason and corruption against the speaker even when there are no evidences to back such an enterprise. The plot became heightened following speculations last week that almost two- thirds of the house members had purportedly signed an impeachment notice, ready to be served on President Olusegun Obasanjo,” Audu said.

Governor Lam Adesina of Oyo State and a section of the press had recently alleged that the speaker was plotting the overthrow of the federal government in collaboration with a retired army colonel. They did not, however, mention the name of the retired army officer.

Audu told Newswatch that this strategy was actually anchored on a false and induced testimony by Samuel Obande and Lasbury Amadi, members of the House of Representatives from Benue and Rivers states respectively. The two had claimed that they were present at a forum where the speaker disclosed that the military was on stand-by to topple the government in the event that the national assembly failed to impeach the president.

Newswatch learnt that the two legislators were recently invited to the meeting of the national council of state, where they were made to brief the 36 state governors on the allegation. Newswatch gathered that the governors considered the coup story too good to be true. They discountenanced.

But Adejo said men of the SSS are not done with the story yet. “Information reaching the speaker’s office indicates that some persons believed to be from the SSS have been going round media houses in Lagos to claim they were in possession of audio-visual evidence depicting the speaker in conspiracy with a military personnel, to commit treason.

“ We find these tales alarming. Why would security agents who have proof of treason prefer to go to media houses rather than take the suspects in for questioning and charge them before a court of competent jurisdiction? We of course, understand that these are desperate times for some persons. But we do not expect this level of desperation- elevating rumours of coup to public discuss,” Adejo said.

The press secretary feels the recent attempt to investigate the speaker by the anti-graft panel was the handiwork of Obasanjo. He told Newswatch that the ICPC was under instruction to indict the speaker and his aids for corruption. This, he said, was a familiar strategy by the presidency.

Newswatch learnt that as at the time of this report, the ICPC was yet to serve the speaker or any of his aides accused by Obande with a copy of the petition. Instead, the ICPC has been conducting its investigation through other leakages.

An aide to the speaker told Newswatch that agents of the commission had been sneaking into the national assembly and Kano , the speaker’s home state to seek for information. The aide also said that the commission was desperately searching for persons that would bear false testimonies to no avail.

Newswatch gathered that Na’Abba had earlier raised an objection to this kind of subterfuge by ICPC. The commission through Sunday Chukwura, head of investigation, tendered an apology for what he described as “inadvertent omissions.”

The speaker last week released four of his aides to the ICPC for interrogation.

But Audu said the commission “has continued to keep the petition away from the persons complained against in utter violation of the most basic requirement for justice which is that persons accused must be made aware of allegations against them.

“ Also, the indecent haste in which the ICPC developed interest in the Obande petition is equally worrisome. For a commission that is not known to have successfully investigated or prosecuted any significant case since its inception, it has in less than three weeks made such an issue of the petition against the speaker, that its motive can only be a matter of suspicion. More so when several petitions of public interest are gathering dust at the ICPC headquarters,” he said.

But the commission in a press statement in Abuja on Monday, September 16, 2002 said the speaker had a case to answer. The statement which was signed by Kalu Otisi, assistant director, public enlightenment, said going by the evidence so far collected by the commission in the course of its preliminary investigations into the petition, there existed sufficient reason to interrogate the speaker to clarify some issues.

Otisi denied that the commission was being influenced by external forces.

He said when the speaker had demanded for a copy of the petition, he was told that it was “ procedurally wrong to furnish him with a copy of the petition at that point of the investigation.”

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