Posted by EMMA AMAIZE & SAM OYADONGHA on
THE impeachment, last Friday, of Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State climaxed events in the state since November 23 when Alamieyeseigha rejected the counsel of a select Bayelsa elders, the state House of Assembly and President Olusegun Obasanjo.
THE impeachment, last Friday, of Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State climaxed events in the state since November 23 when Alamieyeseigha rejected the counsel of a select Bayelsa elders, the state House of Assembly and President Olusegun Obasanjo. The governor’s ouster followed the submission of the report by the panel, comprising four men and three women, which looked into the allegations of misconduct levelled against him, to the state House of Assembly.
Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, who inaugurated the panel, last Monday, had observed that the panelists: Mr. David Serena-Dokubo Spiff (chairman); Lady Mercy Alagoa; Mr. Collins Boleigha; Wing Commander Gladys Brisibe (rtd); Dr. (Mrs) Bolere Ketebu-Nwokafor; Col. Rufus Apulu (rtd) and Mr. Benson Agadaga, were soberly chosen for “the historic, national and international assignment”. But who really are these seven wise men and women; where are they coming from; what is their pedigree? Sunday Vanguard in this report unveils the board of adjudicators Alamieyeseigha would have loved to be in love with, feel affection for and care for in one of his most decisive hours of need on the earth planet.
* Spiff - luminous advocate: The chairman of the panel, a flambouyant and flashy legal practitioner, Spiff was reportedly called to the Bar in 1978. He has been in private practice since then. He was a Federal Government nominee to the defunct National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) in Abuja and was involved in the 2003 gubernatorial campaign of Alamieyeseigha’s biggest rival, Mr. Timi Alaibe of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Sources said he is a close friend and schoolmate of the Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo.
By virtue of his profession, he has handled quite a lot of cases for diverse clients, one of them, the battle by Nembe people in 2002 against Alamieyeseigha. The governor protested his membership of the panel to the chief judge of the state but his colleagues described him as a luminous advocate with a proclivity for great scholarship and the Queen’s English. His father is from Brass constituency in Bayelsa and his law firm, which is involved in corporate practice, is one of the prosperous ones in the state. He is known to be ethical and somebody who loathes tyranny and injustice.
* Lady Alagoa - iron willed intellectual: She is a strong-willed intellectual and also married to an academic husband, Prof E.J. Alagoa, one of Africa’s most respected professors of history and the first pro-chancellor of the Niger-Delta University (NDU), Amassoma, Bayelsa State. In the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), she is fondly called the mother of the assembly because of her motherly disposition to consideration of issues. In fact, she is a thinker and respected community leader from Nembe area of the state. Since the Alamieyeseigha story broke, she has maintained a studied silence. She, indeed, headed a panel that was set up by the Alamieyeseigha government on the Nembe crisis but after a painstaking job, the report of her panel is yet to see the light of the day. It is not known whether she holds any feeling of resentment against the governor for that but Lady Alagoa is a zealous woman that is self-governing. She acts on the basis of her convictions and might not have been prejudiced by extraneous factors.
* Boleigha - skillful strategist: He is a product of the University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers State and was called to the Bar in 1991. Like Spiff, he owns a thriving law firm in Yenagoa and is also the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in the state capital. Rising from a general meeting, November 30, at Yenagoa, his association, in a communiquéé signed by him, secretary, Ebiyerin Omukoro and publicity secretary, Perediyegha Ajoko, deplored the escape of Alamieyeseigha from the United Kingdom, where he was undergoing trial for alleged financial impropriety. He sees nothing wrong in the deployment of military troops and security personnel by the Federal Government to Bayelsa State to maintain peace but he called for restraint and respect for the entrenched fundamental rights of the citizenry by deployed troops and security personnel.
His association acknowledged Alamieyeseigha’s deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as the acting governor of the state and would want the Federal Government to defreeze the accounts of the state and release its seized allocation to enable the government pay workers. He does not see any reason for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state.
* Ketebu-Nwokafor - frank campaigner: A seasoned politician and activist, she is the national president of the National Council of Women’s Societies and a former member of the House of Representatives. She hails from Odi community in the state and the panel must have found her contributions handy because she does not believe in beating about the bush. Mrs. Ketebu also believes in equal rights for everybody and would stick out her neck to defend it.
* Brisibe - independent minded: A former council caretaker committee chairman in the state, Brisibe is a retired airforce officer. It was learnt that her husband is the current chairman of the Bayelsa State Scholarship Board but the woman has a reputation of absolute independence in her decisions in her official duties.
* Agadaga - torn between Alamieyeseigha and Jonathan: An amiable fellow, Agadaga hails from the Ogbia axis of the state. He was the immediate past Commissioner for Information in Alamieyeseigha administration. The governor’s camp thought that he would not help their case in the panel because of the manner he was dropped as a commissioner but his followers said the man bears no personal grudge against the impeached governor that once gave him opportunity to serve the state. They said he was guided by the facts of the matter. Alams' camp contended, however, that he is loyal to the acting governor who is waiting in Abuja for the coast to be cleared before taking over from his boss. A family source said Mr. Agadaga is not the type of person that would deny his friendship with anybody because a panel was set by the chief judge, adding that, “he is a friend to both the governor and deputy governor”.
* Apulu: Not much is known about this retired colonel of the Nigeria Army but it was gathered that he was once an aide-camp to the former Chief of General Staff, Lt General Oladipo Diya.
Lobbyists at work: Lobbyists did not leave anything to chance and they went to work to get the panel of adjudicators to swing their report in favour of the interest they represent. Sunday Vanguard learnt that a group went to the Yenagoa residence of one of the panelists to talk to him but they did not meet him at home. They saw his wife and pleaded with her to beg her husband not to join others in digging Alamieyeseigha’s grave. The panelist had temporary abandoned his home since he was sworn-in, last Monday. His wife assured the lobbyists that she would pass the message to her husband but whey they left, her friend who was present told her not to mind them and tell her husband to do only the right thing.
Alams’ protest: The impeached governor protested to the chief judge against the inclusion of the chairman of the panel Agadaga. His arguments against the chairman were that with his speeches and comments, he would be predisposed to bias; is a “call-mate” of the Attorney General of the Federation who is an interested party in the whole matter; was a Federal Government nominee to the defunct Confab; is a member of the PDP and his (Alamieyeseigha) opponent in the 2003 elections.
The governor also alleged that Agadaga is a PDP member and also a civil servant. If the ex-governor’s claim that the two panelists were members of the PDP is true, then they were unqualified for the assignment but Spiff, in his response to the chief judge stated that, “I do not belong to the PDP or any political party”. He dismissed Alams' claim that he was his opponent in the 2003 elections and said his being a lead counsel in a suit by Nembe Council of Chiefs against the Governor of Bayelsa state, the Attorney General of the Federation and others was purely a discharge of his professional responsibility and instructions given him as a legal practitioner.
Spiff admitted that the Attorney General of the Federation, is his friend and call mate at the Nigerian Law School as Alamieyeseigha claimed but said that it would not influence him to discharge his duties as chairman of the investigative panel.
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