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Jonathan to Be Sworn-in Tomorrow

Posted by From John Iwori in Yenagoa, Funmi Peter-Omale in Abuja, Olawale Olaleye in Lagos and Hammed Shittu in Osogbo on 2005/12/10 | Views: 442 |

Jonathan to Be Sworn-in Tomorrow

Following the directive of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, the Acting Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan would be sworn in tomorrow as the new governor of the state.

Following the directive of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, the Acting Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan would be sworn in tomorrow as the new governor of the state.

The decision to swear in Jonathan as the governor of the oil-rich state is coming on the heels of the impeachment of Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha's governor of the state. Many notable politicians in the state have however commenced intense lobby to be selected as the deputy governor.

Seventeen out of the twenty-four members of the House had in a resolution last Friday removed the governor from office, saying that the allegations leveled against him constituted "gross misconduct" in pursuance to section 188 of the 1999 constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Jonathan would be sworn in at the state Sports Complex, Yenagoa by the state Chief Judge, Justice Emmanuel Joel Igoniwari who is also his kinsman.

THISDAY checks revealed that the lobby for the deputy governorship position started when it dawned on many notable politicians in the state, especially members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the resolution of the House to swear in Jonathan as governor has created room for the deputy governorship position.

Impeccable sources said politicians outside Bayelsa East senatorial district are most favoured for the number two slot.

This partly explained why politicians from Bayelsa West, made up of Sagbama and Ekeremor Local Government Areas and Bayelsa Central, made up of Yenagoa, Kolo-kuma/ Opokuma, and Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas are the ones seeking to be selected for the post.

Besides, those who played key roles in the removal of Alamieyeseigha from office would be among the top contenders for the post.

Already nocturnal meetings within and outside the state capital, are being held to agree on "the final list of choice candidates" that would be considered for selection as deputy governor.

THISDAY learnt that Jonathan is expected to make his choice from this list of favoured candidates.

It was further gathered that most of these lobbyists have made the home and office of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe their permanent abode in a bid to persuade him to put in a word in their favour.

Those seeking to occupy the coveted position are also using top class traditional rulers and the presidency to actualize their ambition.

Meanwhile, heavily armed soldiers have however, cordoned off Creek Haven, Yenagoa, where the governor and his deputy have their offices and residence, Bayelsa State House of Assembly Complex, Amarata, State Secretariat Complex and adjoining offices, both private and public.

The road leading to the Assembly Complex, Indepe-ndent Electoral Commission (INEC), Government House, Yenagoa was immediately cordoned off, just as motorists were diverted to other routes.

Streets and roads in the state capital were immediately deserted, as residents for fear of the unknown, kept indoors all day long. Many were seen discussing in hushed tones the fate of Alamieyeseigha following his arrest by security operatives.

Portraits of Almieyeseigha which adorn public buildings have been removed, even as the iron bars bearing his name at "DSP Technology Centre", in the heart of the town has been dismantled.

The DSP Technology Centre with its state of the art facilities has nearly 1,000 Dell Computers and was commissioned last May by President Olusegun Obasanjo during his official visit to the state.

The authorities of the Nigeria Police yesterday kept sealed lips on the whereabouts of Alamie-yeseigha, thus giving ample room for reporters to continue to speculate on the whereabouts of the former governor.

When contacted yesterday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commis-sioner of Police Haz Iwendi, declined to confirm the whereabouts of the governor. He said he was not competent to speak on the issue noting that government officials are more competent to speak on the issue.

However, THISDAY gathered that the governor who was impeached on Friday and arrested by the police was being kept under very tight security and has been refused access to anybody except some EFCC officials and senior police offficers.

According to reliable sources, Alameiseigha was flown into Abuja last Friday. The sources maintained that the Inspector General of Police has reportedly directed that he be closely monitored and no one should be allowed to visit or see him without his express approval.

When Thisday visited the Louis Edet House yesterday, no police officer was willing to speak on the issue.

Another top Police officer said " You know this is a very sensitive issue that must be handled with care and caution. Everything is being done carefully because we do not want the situation to become a security issue that we won't be able to handle. It is already a security issue but it has to be tackled with caution."

The Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Martins Agwai however, yesterday justified the deployment of troops to Bayelsa and said the move was in order as nobody was above the law.

Agwai also said the continued presence of the Nigeria army in the Bakassi Pennisula after the International World Court of Justice judgement in Hague was to protect lives of all Nigerians in the disputed area.

Agwai disclosed this in Ada, Osun State during the press briefing to mark the begining of 2005 Annual Conference of Chief of Army Staff.

According to him, the issue at stake in Bayelsa state cannot lead to anarchy at all because "there is law and order in the country which everyone of us irrespective of our positions must follow".

He said "we are just in Bayelsa to assist the police so that law and order will be maintained and to also ensure the people are not act above the law of the land".

Agwai added that,the impeachment of Alamie-siegha will not lead to anarchy because “no goverment will like to close its eyes and see some individuals staying above the law of the land at least there is rule of law in the country".

In another reaction to the governor’s impeachment, Chiefs Mike Ozekhome and Mike Okoye, both lawyers to the impeached Governor yesterday protested the process culminating in his removal. They said it was a sad development in Nigeria's constitutional democracy.

Addressing a press conference in his office in Lagos, Ozekhome along with his colleague said "in an unprecedented lynch-him-mob-hysteria by some sections of the society, Alamieyeseigha was convicted even before his trial commenced". According to him, "some members of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and the kangaroo panel set up to try him were too impatient and too hasty to remove him from office".

He alleged that the federal government has since inception, shown an "unusual interest in nailing its citizen in a far away country rather than protect him by sending its attorney-general to London to depose to an affidavit against him, immediately invaded Bayelsa State, especially Yenogoa, its capital and laid siege on the government house when all attempts by Alamieyeseigha's opponents to instigate violence and insurrection through rented crowd failed", he explained.

Specifically addressing the impeachment issue, Ozekhome said the governor had earlier rejected the chairman of the panel, Barrister Dokubo Spiff, sensing that he may not secure fair hearing and justice. This, according to him, was contained in a letter written by the governor on December 5 and addressed to the Chief Judge that if Spiff was allowed to chair the panel, it would give effect to sentiment, bias and subjective opinion about him and his office.
But rather than address the fears of the governor, Ozekhome said "there was no reaction from the Chief judge on this letter. Neither the chairman nor the member disqualified themselves. Rather, the government got wind of the fact that the panel was sitting secretly in the dark recesses of an unidentified venue under tight military security".

Ozekhome pointed out that the notice of the impeachment was dated November 18, but were given to the Bayelsa State legislators four days after at the Economic and Financial Crime Commission's office in Lagos.

"While we do not condone corruption in any manner however, we insist that the constitution and laws of the land must not be jettisoned under any guise as has been done in this case. Therefore, we condemn the alleged impeachment because as far as we are concerned, the panel is yet to sit and call for evidence. When they do so, we are ready, able and willing to defend Governor Alamieyeseigha", he said.

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