By Ebere Uzoukwa
I have always admired Gov. Rochas Okorocha’s acumen and unbridled audacity that drive him to higher heights in the business of politics. The governor has no doubt ventured in many areas many had ever dreaded by merely exhibiting an uncommon willpower that is not only daring but sagaciously bravery. If not Okorocha’s strong-willed spirit, the Ogboko Ideato South born philanthropist wouldn’t have today occupied the exalted governorship seat of Imo State.
But his latest move involving political maneuvering, disregard to rule of law and flagrant abuse of legislative rules and procedure aimed at unseating his deputy, Prince Eze Madumere, is one reckless venture capable of demoting my former boss and benefactor.
Recall that Madumere’s disapproval to Okorocha’s succession plan which favoured his son-inlaw and chief of staff, Uche Nwosu, had put him on head-on-collusion against his boss. The Achi Mbieri born political strategist had rejected the Owerri Senatorial seat earlier appropriated via an in-house mock primary election staged by Okorocha. Upon this rejection, Madumere, who hitherto was prided the engine room of Okorocha’s government was maliciously bullied and locked out of the government house.
It is absolutely correct to posit that Madumere’s insistence to pursue his gubernatorial ambition and subsequent realignment within the APC infuriated and badly unsettled Okorocha who perhaps thought that his deputy lacks sufficient capacity and wherewithal to do so. A rattled but unhappy Okorocha would resort to impeachment as a weapon as he launched a political warfare against Madumere. This incontrovertibly becomes the situation as the Acho Ihim-led 8th Assembly undisputedly turns a willing tool whenever money filled Ghana-must-go bags are delivered to them.
However, the contentious aspect of the rascality is the legality, validity and constitutionality of the exercise purporting the impeachment of Madumere as Imo State Deputy Governor. The Governor and his lawmakers within the illusion of their imagination claim to have impeached Mdumere and also approved the nomination of one Callistus Ekenze as his successor. They also claimed to halted Ekenze’s inauguration in obedience to a court order. If the positions of the Governor and his lawmakers are in tandem with the law, then Imo is presently running without a Deputy Governor. This suggests that Okorocha’s Imo is like an airplane cruising without a co-pilot. This, constitutionally, invalidates Okorocha’s governorship.
Remember that the provision of Section 187(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic As Amended, says……”a candidate for the office of Governor of a State shall not be deemed to have validly nominated for such office unless he nominates another candidate as his associate for his running for the office of the Governor”. This including other sections portray the lawful fact that a Governor CANNOT at any point in time operate without a Deputy Governor. But this is not the situation with Imo State as at today. There is no constitutional breach hence Prince Eze Madumere remains the Deputy Governor of Imo State.
But suffice to say that Okorocha and his people are merely displaying crass ignorance of the law. The governor and his boys in Imo Assembly should be tutored to understand that they never impeached Madumere. No separate court order was obtained for the purpose of halting Ekenze’s swearing-in. A valid court was order was duly obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction which lawfully retrained the state Chief Judge from constituting the panel that purportedly churned out whatever report that formed the nexus of the purported impeachment. You can’t disobey an order of a court and later choose a part for obedience. That is fallacious and hypocritical. As a matter of fact, Gov. Okorocha has for umpteenth time mocks the judiciary and, indeed, the entire nation by this very action.
Again, going by an informed legal opinion aptly canvassed by a learned friend, Barr. Ugochukwu Amaraizu, those of us who are not lawyers don’t need further legal interpretation to know that Prince Eze Madumere is and validly remains the Deputy Governor of Imo State.
Barr. Amaraizu in a recent social media post regarding the development in Imo State, said: “Looking at the facts surrounding the impeachment process from another angle, one needs no soothsayer to conclude that the impeachment(Prince Eze Madumere) was a mere exercise in futility. A Deputy Governor cannot be impeached without the Chief Judge of the State setting up a Panel that will comprise persons who in his own opinion are of unquestionable Intergrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party.(See Section 188(5) of our Constitution).
“Report has it that there was an Order of Court restraining the Members from continuation of the impeachment process or restraining the Chief Judge from setting up the Panel. In so far as there was an Order before the conclusion of the purported impeachment process, those that masterminded the impeachment cannot take the benefit of section 188(9) &(10).
The resultant effect is that the Deputy Governor-Madumere remains the Deputy Governor of Imo State and must be treated as such with all constitutional rights and privileges attached to the office of the Deputy Governor. Failure to treat him as such, the Governor’s continued stay in that office without a Deputy Governor is illegal. Having decided to uphold the rule of law by obeying the sacred Order of court, he(Gov. Rochas Okorocha) should reinstate his Deputy Governor and declare the action of his Legislature a horrible practice in our modern day democracy”.
It is therefore expected that Gov. Okorocha toes the constitutional and moral path to avoid breakdown of law and order in Imo State. The governor should be reminded that ‘it is not everything a man can do that he should do’. Having masterminded the impeachment of his first deputy, Sir Jude Agbaso, in a controversial manner too, the governor should in the name of God retraced his steps and allow Madumere to serve out the remaining few months as Deputy Governor of Imo State. I solemnly recommend this peaceful but honourable approach to Gov. Okorocha, whom I love and cherish so much, having it in my mind that history and prosperity are already waiting as he graciously exits the office of the Governor of Imo State.
May God continue to bless you Owelle Ndigbo!
Fmr. SA Media/CPS to Gov. Rochas Okorocha