By Friday Olokor/PunchSpecial Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, has called for Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha’s impeachment by the state House of Assembly.
Gulak made the call for Okorocha’s removal after the 27 local government chairmen sacked by Okorocha submitted a letter of protest through him to the President in Abuja on Monday. Okorocha fired the chairmen elected under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party during the Ikedi Ohakim administration on the grounds that their tenure had expired.
The governor appointed transitional committee chairmen comprising members of his party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, to administer the LGs.
But the LG bosses challenged their removal in court, arguing that the governor had no constitutional powers to sack them.
The Federal Government on July 16 through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke, ordered Okorocha to reinstate the chairmen.
The FG urged Okorocha to give full effect to the July 4, 2012 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Owerri, declaring their removal illegal and unconstitutional.
But the governor refused to reverse his decision.
Gulak said, “What Okorocha has done is illegal and unconstitutional and where democracy thrives, these are acts that are impeachable. It is just unfortunate that the members of the Imo State House of Assembly have not taken up that matter. But these acts are impeachable because the offences are impeachable.
“In this vein, the courts have given their verdict that you should be reinstated. But the court verdict would be empty if you are not allowed to operate as chairmen of your local governments. A political solution must be found for this logjam and I believe that the leader of our party will be properly advised on the political solution to this political crisis in Imo State.
“Nigerian democracy was not got on a platter of gold. People suffered, people sacrificed, people lost their lives before this democracy came to be and no individual is greater than the democracy of Nigeria.”
The council bosses were led by the chairman of Isiala Mbano LG/Imo State chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Mrs. Ruby Emele, and Ngor Okpala LG boss who is the state ALGON Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Onuegbu.
Meanwhile, a High Court, Owerri on Monday struck out a suit filed by the chairmen, urging it to allow them to serve out their tenure, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Justice Ngozi Opara struck out the case, ruling that hearing it would amount to abuse of court process since a similar case had been instituted in the Federal High Court.
The counsel for the governor, Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN), had while arguing the case on August 16, said the plaintiffs had filed another suit at a Federal High Court, Abuja, on the same matter, insisting that it was an abuse of court process.
The second defendant, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Soronnadi Njoku, argued that the proper order was for cases to proceed from a lower court to a higher court and not from the higher to the lower court since the claimants plea for two-year tenure had earlier been granted by the Appeal Court.