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Last minute efforts by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to save embattled Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong from impeachment by the state’s House of Assembly on Thursday failed as the decision could not be reversed.
Last minute efforts by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to save embattled Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Chris Ekpenyong from impeachment by the state’s House of Assembly on Thursday failed as the decision could not be reversed. A five-man delegation of top officials of the party, including Board of Trustees Chairman, Chief Anthony Anenih, which visited Uyo, the state capital returned to Abuja empty-handed.
Though, the Anenih-led team that included Chief Olabode George, Deputy National Chairman South; Professor Jerry Gana, Secretary, PDP Board of Trustees; Chief Ojo Maduekwe, National Secretary and Alhaji Mohammed Waziri held a meeting with the state governor, Obong Victor Attah and the his erstwhile deputy, Ekpenyong at the Governor’s Lodge in Uyo, they could not get Attah to reverse the impeachment.
But back in Abuja, Maduekwe announced that the party had ruled that the impeachment be suspended. He also asked all the parties involved from making public utterance on the matter.
However, Saturday Independent gathered that the State government denied, during the meeting, any involvement in the impeachment and told the delegation that the decision to impeach Ekpenyong was that of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
Ekpenyong was voted out of office by 23 members of the House of Assembly on Thursday, while he battled to secure an order of injunction restraining the panel of inquiry set up by the Chief Judge of the state, from continuing investigation into the allegations of gross misconduct preferred against him.
The motion for his impeachment was moved by the House Leader, Dr. Etido Ibekwe and seconded by Mr. Usenobong Akpabio, representing Uruan State Constituency.
In the motion, Ibekwe said that the panel that sat from Tuesday, June 21 to Thursday June 23, 2005, had proved over 90 percent of the allegations against the Deputy Governor.
The panel in its report indicted Ekpenyong in all the seven point allegations, pointing out that he did not comply with the provisions of Section II (I) (b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act by declaring in the Asset Declaration Form that he owned the house at 11835 Elkingston CT, Houston Texas United State of America.
“Having been convinced that the Deputy Governor, as a public officer, deliberately did not make the declaration as required by law, the respondent had in the opinion of the panel, contravened the provisions of Section II (I)(b) Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act CAP 56, of the LFN 1990,” the report said.
The panel also found Ekpenyong guilty of beating up one Lady Paula Usoro, a PDP stalwart who had gone to solicit assistance from him and also for assaulting a State Security Service operative, Mr. Kufre Ekpenyong.
They also faulted Ekpenyong for using his position as Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC) to, “obtain advantage in contract bids submitted by his company, Incarnate Construction (Nig) Ltd,” adding that while still occupying the public office, “He was also managing and directing the affairs of his private company FREKEM Mercantile Limited.”
On the allegation that he abandoned State function during the democracy day celebration to host a meeting in his private residence at Ikot Ukana, in Obot Akara Local Government Area, the panel said it found Ekpenyong’s explanation that he obtained approval from the governor to attend to the Pro-Health International Team that visited the area “untenable,” since according to them, they had obtained a written press statement from a former senator, Etang Edet Umoyo admitting that he coordinated the said meeting for the purpose of calling on the Deputy Governor to step forward and contest the 2007 governorship election. “The Deputy Governor did not produce evidence of any excuse or permission for absence from the event,” the report stated.
Saturday Independent, however, gathered that Ekpenyong pleaded not guilty to almost all of the charges at the meeting held with the Anenih-led team on Thursday. A source close to the meeting said that the embattled Deputy Governor only accepted the assault charge leveled against him. There were even moments of laughter during the meeting as both Governor Attah and Ekpenyong swore that they were men of good faith.
The PDP team later left Uyo for Calabar from where it proceeded to Abuja. Spokespersons for the state government are vehement in their stand that the impeachment was purely a matter for the House of Assembly to handle.