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Bayelsa speaker impeached, sworn in as acting gov

Posted by By FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa on 2008/04/17 | Views: 1028 |

Bayelsa speaker impeached, sworn in as acting gov


The Presidency on Wednesday waded into the constitutional crisis prevailing in Bayelsa State and ordered that the judgment of the Court of Appeal be enforced with the swearing of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Werinipre Seibarugu, as Acting Governor.

The Presidency on Wednesday waded into the constitutional crisis prevailing in Bayelsa State and ordered that the judgment of the Court of Appeal be enforced with the swearing of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Werinipre Seibarugu, as Acting Governor.

Sources in Bayelsa Government House said President Umar Yar’ Adua was contacted in Germany after it appeared that there was a deliberate effort by some political forces to prevent the swearing-in of the Speaker and he ordered that the judgment be enforced.

At exactly 4.15 pm, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri inaugurated Seibarugu as the acting governor, at a ceremony witnessed by former Governor Timipre Sylva, his erstwhile deputy, Peremobowei Ebebi, House of Assembly members and government functionaries.
Seibarugu, in a two-page speech, said his priority was to maintain peace and security in the state, adding that he would not discriminate against any individual or groups, because the entire state remains his constituency.

His words: “ No matter the temporary change of baton of leadership, one thing we should always remind ourselves is the fact that we are a people bonded by a common destiny, a common history of poverty, a common problem of hunger and a common problem of neglect, no matter our political divide.
“Rather than witch-hunting and engaging in acts that would tear us apart in the name of politics, this occasion should once more provide us the opportunity to think collectively on proffering solutions to the task of building a united, secured and prosperous Bayelsa State.

“As I assume duty in the capacity of acting governor, one thing I want to assure Bayelsans is that I will not fail to serve you conscientiously, transparently and with the highest sense of responsibility and total deference to the oath of service I have sworn before you.
“Apart from consolidating on our democratization process, maintaining absolute peace and security which is the primary responsibility of a state, remains my priority.”
Earlier, a thick cloud of confusion had hung over the fate of the Speaker as the Chief Judge of the state, Hon. Justice Kate Abiri, refused to swear him in 24 hours after the Court of Appeal sitting in Port- Harcourt nullified the election of Sylva.

That arose from the claim by some members of the House of Assembly that they had impeached Seibarugu and his deputy, Hon Nestor Binabo on Tuesday, replacing them with Ebiotu Seleketimebi as Speaker and Ebiundu Komonibo as deputy.
Seibarugu and lawmakers loyal to him had left Port Harcourt for Yenagoa, in company of the former deputy governor, Rt. Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, immediately after the court pronounced that the Speaker be sworn-in, but he could not be sworn-in on Tuesday because Justice Abiri was said to be in Abuja prompting the ceremony to be shifted to Wednesday morning.
However, signs that all was not well emerged as early as 7am when news filtered to Government House that the other camp in the House of Assembly had gone on air to announce the impeachment of Seibarugu and Binabo.

Further confusion hit Sylva and Seibarugu’s supporters when the arrival of Justice Abiri was delayed, with the venue of the ceremony shifting between the Governor’s Office conference room and the Governor’s Lodge.
Eventually, when Justice Abiri arrived the Governor’s Lodge for the ceremony, the confusion persisted, as she demanded for a copy of the judgment before she can go ahead.
Her demand poured cold water on the supporters and aides of Sylva as they had not been able to lay their hands on the judgment.

According to one of the aides of the former governor, all their efforts to get the judgment on Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, met brick wall as the Presiding Judge was said to have gone away with it.
He insisted that the refusal to make available the judgment was a deliberate ploy to create chaos in the state and give room for the enemies of Sylva to take-over the machinery of government.

At about 12.30 pm, some members of Sylva legal team, along with the Commissioner for Youth Empowerment, Mr. Maxwell Oko, headed again for Port Harcourt in a helicopter with registration number 5N BJG in search of the court judgment.
Meanwhile the faction claiming to have impeached Seiabarugu and Binabo said he was removed following alleged gross misconduct, ranging from financial recklessness, incompetence and flagrant disregard for the rule of law.

In a statement signed by Ebiotu Seleketimiebi, in his capacity as the new Speaker, he said the motion for the impeachment was moved by Ebamughan Empere, representing Sagbama constituency 111, after arguing that Seibarugu was incompetent to lead the House.
The statement said Hon Noah Otobo Opusiri had been elected as the Majority Leader, Hon Konbowei Benson elected as deputy-leader, while Hon. Victor Sam Ateke was elected deputy Chief Whip.
In his reaction, the House Committee Chairman on Information, Hon. Robert Enogha, said the public should disregard the impeachment of Seibarugu because it cannot stand.

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