Posted by By Ise-Oluwa Ige, Emma Amaize, Sam Oyadongha & Emmanuel Aziken on
Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State has filed a suit before the Supreme Court, praying for an order stopping the Federal Government from effecting his removal from office through alleged unconstitutional means.
ABUJA— Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State has filed a suit before the Supreme Court, praying for an order stopping the Federal Government from effecting his removal from office through alleged unconstitutional means.
He also wants the apex court to compel the Federal Government to withdraw its troops stationed in Bayelsa State capital. Besides, he wants the court to order the Federal Government to release 15 of the 24 state legislators it allegedly held “hostage” in Abuja for the sole purpose of removing him from office through unconstitutional means.
Governor Alamieyeseigha approached the court, last Friday, through the state Attorney-General since an individual cannot invoke the original jurisdiction of the court.
The case commenced by a way of originating summons with the Federation Attorney-General listed as the only defendant in the matter. By implication, the suit wants the apex court to make clear pronouncement or interpret certain sections of the 1999 constitution as they affect the extent of the powers of the Federal Government over the 36 state governors in the running of their states’ affairs.
In the suit, with registration number SC\274\2000 lodged last Friday by the Chambers of Mike Ozekhome, at the registry of the Supreme Court on behalf of Bayelsa Attorney-General, the governor alleged that the Federal Government was desperate to remove him from office by inviting state legislators outside their jurisdiction and coercing them to impeach him without following due process. He also alleged that in an attempt to create the impression that law and order had broken down in his state and that he was no longer in firm control of its security and welfare, he claimed that the Federal Government deployed troop to maintain peace where there has been no chaos and shut down the only voice of the government in the state—Bayelsa Radio station— to further incapacitate him from performing the functions of his office.
Inviting the court in the circumstance to intervene, Governor Alamieyeseigha, in the suit, formulated eight fundamental questions for the court to answer in respect of his travails. The questions are:
lWhether Bayelsa State, save and except as are expressly provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, is not a separate state possessing of a separate and distinct government with full and exhaustive powers different and distinct from the Federal Government of Nigeria;
lWhether the invasion of Bayelsa State, particularly its capital, Yenagoa, by federal troops and other members of the armed forces and security agencies as directed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without any provocation, breakdown of law and order or any clear and present danger of such breakdown of law and order with a view to overawing the government and people of the state is not a breach of section 4 (6) (7), section 217 (1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria and, therefore, illegal, wrongful, null and void;
lWhether the seizing of 19 and subsequently 15 members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly by the Federal Government and the said agencies is not a breach of section 4 (6) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution;
lWhether compelling the 15 members held hostage under duress and undue influence and leading them from Abuja to Yenagoa under strict military protection to remove the Governor of Bayelsa State while still in captivity is not a breach of section 188 of the 1999 Constitution;
lWhether the withholding of the Bayelsa State federal account allocation for November 2005 and ordering the freezing of the Bayelsa State government accounts in banks is not a breach of sections 1, 2 and 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
lWhether under the doctrine of lis pendens and the authority of Governor of Lagos State Vs Ojukwu (1986) (pt 18) 621, the Federal Government or any of its agencies or other persons or authorities can legally take steps with respect to exhibit B1 which is subjudice and whether the Federal Government can summarily close down a state-owned radio station without the due process of law as it did to the Bayelsa State-owned radio station.
In the event that the questions are determined against the Federal Government, he is asking the court to enter nine declaratory and five injunctive reliefs in his favour including an order restraining the president and any other agent of the Federal Government from further unlawful and unconstitutional interference in the governance of Bayelsa State.
Move to stop sack suffers set back
Meanwhile, attempt by the pro-Governor Alamieyeseigha lawmakers in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to scuttle the impeachment of the governor has suffered a set back One of the seven lawmakers, who went to the High Court of Bayelsa last weekend to restraint the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, from inaugurating the seven-man panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct levelled at Governor Alamieyeseigha, Mr. Amalanyo Yousuo, has backed out and has since travelled out of Yenagoa to join his colleagues quartered in Abuja pushing for the removal of the embattled governor.
The return of Yousuo to the fold has given the anti-Alamieyeseigha group the required two-third majority needed to impeach the governor if he is found wanting by the seven-man panel investigating the allegation of gross misconduct levelled at him.
Mr. Yousuo, the only Alliance for Democracy (AD) member in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dominated House alongside 19 others signed the impeachment notice against the governor only for him and four others to return to Yenagoa and disowned the purported document, saying they were made to sign it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in its Lagos office under duress.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, who spoke to Vanguard confirmed that the AD member who initially abandoned them had returned and joined others in signing the notice, calling on the Chief Judge to inaugurate the seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct levelled at the governor.
Also, another of the anti-Alamieyeseigha lawmakers confided in Vanguard that “Yousuo is now on their side and that he cannot go against the position of his party which the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties represents.
The inauguration of the panel billed for noon today at the chief judge’s court in the High Court Complex, Yenagoa, according to a statement signed by the chief registrar of the state judiciary, Mr. Ineikade Eradiri, is in pursuant to section 188 sub-section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘Alams’ case won’t stop resource control’
In a related development, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said the recent problems of Gov. Alamieyeseigha cannot affect the agitation for more resources for the development of the oil producing Niger Delta region.
Responding to questions from Vanguard on the effect of the political and legal problems of Governor Alamieyeseigha on the Niger Delta quest for more resources for the oil rich but underdeveloped region, Senator Udoma called for a distinction between the problems of the governor and the problems of the Niger Delta people.
Senator Udoma, himself the leader of Senate South-South caucus, nevertheless said "the Alamieyeseigha saga made it more imperative for the state Houses of Assembly to take more oversight of the affairs of governors."
Governor Alamieyeseigha who has been indicted by the London Metropolitan Police and Nigerian financial crime prosecutors on allegation of money laundering is one of the vocal champions of resource control. He has severally put the cause of his problems to his quest for resource control and his political affinity to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Following his indictment, resource control activists have seemingly been quiet.
Responding to the situation, Senator Udoma said: “I know that there is the tendency for people to link the agitation with what is happening with the governor. I think the link is unfortunate and I believe that it shouldn’t be. So, I believe we have a very good case for resource control and we should not be discouraged by what has happened to a particular individual. He is only an individual.
“Resource control agitation is not to benefit the governors. It is for the benefit of the people. All the things that have been going on, particularly the issue of DSP Alamieyeseigha, if the allegations are true, and at this point in time, they are only allegations, it only goes to show that we need to strengthen democracy. We need to strengthen the controls that we have over our elected officials,” he said.
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