“In Europe public men do resign. But here it's a lost art. You have to impeach 'em.”
On 23 June 1981, Alhaji Balarabe Musa of old Kaduna state entered Nigeria’s history books for the wrong reasons: he became the first state governor to be impeached.
The impeachment winds have since blown so often and for the silliest reasons that impeachable offences now include daring to keep a poultry farm while holding a public post.
GoalDig highlights ten public office holders who were sacked from office in mostly 'kangaroo' impeachments that didn't paint our beloved country well.
Retired Vice-Admiral Murtala Nyako had done so many ‘wrong’ things.
He was once accused of financial mismanagement and maladministration. He then wrote a damning memo in which he raised strong allegations bordering on genocide against President Goodluck Jonathan.
Crises brewed. But the House of Assembly came out to pass a vote of confidence in Nyako for providing ‘purposeful leadership’.
Less than a year later, Nyako was impeached.
His problems started when he defected from the PDP to the APC. His relationship with the House of Assembly turned sour and the battle line was drawn.
It was the last ‘wrong’ thing the Honourables could stomach.
The impeachment card was played and Murtala Nyako was unceremoniously kicked out of office.
Ladoja was impeached on January 12, 2006 under controversial circumstances.
The governor had fallen out with his godfather and Ibadan political strongman, Lamidi Adedibu. Adedibu had reportedly made Ladoja governor and part of the deal was for Ladoja to share the state’s security allocation with his godfather. An agreement the governor reneged on.
Whether this was an impeachable offence or not would need a law court to explain. But it does appear petty that political differences could become an impeachable offence.
Ladoja’s open opposition to President Obasanjo’s third term bid didn’t help matters. He was kicked out of office before you could say jack and Jill.
His deputy, Adebayo Alao-Akala whowas loyal to the godfather was sworn in.
The Supreme Court would later declare the impeachment illegal and the governor was re-instated.
Joshua successfully completed his first four year term between 1999 and 2003. His people re-elected him and, besides a few minor challenges, things were going smoothly.
Then the accusations started flying all over the place. $9million of public funds went missing. Dariye, in 2004, was found in possession of large sums of money and was arrested in London. That was about the same time he fell out with the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The handwriting of the presidency was quite evident on the wall when only eight of the 24 state assembly members issued an impeachment notice against Dariye.
The process had begun and on the thirteenth day of November, 2006 Joshua Dariye was impeached.
It was an unpopular decision as Dariye was his people’s favourite son. The Supreme Court probably sensed that as well and he was returned to the Government House in Jos with immediate effect.
Lest we forget, all the accusations were not entirely misdirected as later down the road, Joshua confessed to diverting Plateau state funds to Obasanjo’s re-election bid.
Ayo Fayose entrusted the state’s poultry project into the hands of his childhood pal and contractor, Gbenga James. It was designed to be the biggest and the best.
Public funds were released and money exchanged hands. A campaign of calumny followed and public confidence went all downhill. In the investigations that ensued, the same Gbenga James was, coincidentally, the star witness against his former friend, Ayo Fayose.
When 24 out of the 26 lawmakers impeached the governor and his deputy, it seemed the morally right thing to do. Maybe it was the public shame or for security reasons, Ayo thereafter fled the country.
Matters even got worse. After returning home from a self-imposed exile, Fayose was arrested by the EFCC.
Time flew by and normalcy returned to Ekiti state. But it was then that the wind uncovered the well-cooked plot; the impeachment was a sham, planned and executed by external forces, possibly from Abuja.
Some of the lawmakers who impeached Ayo would later admit to wrongfully impeaching him. One in particular, Barrister Gbadebo Ibuoye would later work for Ayo’s re-election in 2014.
This man needs no introduction. Chief Alams was elected on the platform of the PDP in 1999 and was one of President Obasanjo’s main backers.
At a point, though, he was Nigeria’s undisputed Mr Money Laundering. As a sitting Nigerian governor, he got caught with £1million in cash in his London home and was subsequently arrested and detained by the London police.
It was a really embarrassing moment for Nigeria and probably resulted in Chief Alams’ falling out with the president.
End of twist? Certainly not! The highly esteemed UK police was not as smart as the Ijaw-born governor because Chief Alams jumped bail and made it out of London dressed like a woman.
But the presidency, immersed in the task of brand building for the nation, had had enough and it’s input was rumoured as Chief Alams was impeached weeks later.
Imo state had no plans to be left out in the scrap for kangaroo impeachment publicity.
For over one month, Sir Jude Ikechukwu Agbaso, the Deputy Governor, battled hard to sway public opinion and the sympathy of the panel, which was set up to investigate the impeachment charges against him, in his favour.
Ultimately, he failed.
In reality, he was set up to fail.
Sir Agbaso’s travails could be traced to when Governor Rochas Okorocha received feelers that the
deputy governor’s elder brother, Okorocha’s political rival, tried to impeach him. So to retaliate and show who the boss was, the governor played his own impeachment card.
How do you win if your boss and the Number one citizen of the state is the same person who accuses you of having accepted N458 million bribe from a Lebanese contractor and then sets up a panel to investigate the case?
Confident that he was innocent, Agbaso even invited the EFCC and ICPC to come and investigate him, saying “If you find me guilty, jail me. But if you find me innocent, say it so I can clear myself”
Well, where the EFCC searched and found nothing, the governor’s panel discovered a container of wrong impeachable deeds and on Holy Thursday, March 28 2013, the state lawmakers completed the unholy acts of impeaching the deputy governor.
Alhaji Danladi was stripped naked and nailed to the cross by the State House of Assembly without anyone interested in anything he had to say.
The allegations brought against him were grievous, no doubt, but the man deserved a fair hearing. He was said to have used his office and influence to divert Millennium Development Goals facilities such as ICT Centre, motorised borehole and solar lights to Yagai Academy, a private school owned by him. By so doing, according to the legislators, Danladi denied the underprivileged members of the state access to and use of the facilities.
After months of trying to appease the ego of the lawmakers, the deputy governor was finally impeached bringing an end to a period of accusations and counter-accusations.
But Alhaji Sani Danladi was a born fighter and feeling wrongly accused and condemned, he took matters to the Supreme Court, where he won convincingly after a Taraba High Court refused to see anything wrong with his ‘kangaroo’ impeachment.
In effect, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate reinstatement of the Deputy Governor.
Importantly, Alhaji Danladi’s problems began when he fell out of favour with his boss.
While Gov. Danbaba Danfulani Sunta tried hard to keep his distance from the crisis, it was evident that the hands of the lawmakers may have been that of Jacob, the voice was unmistakeably that of his Esau.
When the Enugu State Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, set up a poultry farm at his official residence, little did he know that the farm would be used as a shovel to dig his political grave.
Despite having been loyal to his boss for the best part of the eight years they served running the affairs of Enugu state, Onyebuchi was not spared the guillotine when he fell out with his boss.
Who can blame a man for being ambitious?
Mr Onyebuchi’s problems started when he expressed interest to contest for the Senate seat of Enugu East Senatorial zone, coincidentally against the preferred candidate of the governor, once his tenure as deputy governor was over. This drew the ire of the Governor who had become the de facto godfather of the state.
The decision was probably made over a bowl of garri and vegetable soup: the deputy governor had to go.
In drumming up charges against the state’s number two officer, the noble House of Assembly came up with three ignoble offences, one of which included running a poultry farm in his official residence.
In his defence, the Deputy Governor noted that he had been motivated to operate a poultry farm only because his boss maintained a piggery inside Government House.
Such excuses could not save him, though, and his job was taken away from him.
Unlike Alhaji Danladi, no Supreme Court would come to the aid of Mr Onyebuchi, who took consolation in being the first office holder in Nigeria to be impeached from office without allegation of financial impropriety.
Another Chief Executive who simply could not be excluded from the murky waters of impeachment was Governor Idris Wada of Kogi state.
Crisis brewed when the Governor could just not tolerate the way the operations of the House of Assembly was been conducted, often times at loggerheads with the executives when important decisions where to be taken.
For Gov. Idris Wada to have complete control, the leaders of the House had to go. Bizarrely, it meant the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly and ALL the Principal Officers in one fell swoop!
In short, it was unheard of.
But it was how the powers that be wanted it.
And in a secret meeting held presumably in the dead night in one of the governor’s private chambers, 12 of the 25 members that made up the Assembly controversially impeached Mr Abdullahi Bello, the Speaker and all his principal officers.
Nigerians, however, kicked against the daylight sham.
Civil society groups, the National Assembly, lawyers and several notable personalities condemned the wuruwuru impeachment in strong terms.
Tensions boiled over in the House and the courts awaited another heated legal battle. But the embattled Speaker towed the track of peace and resigned from the post. The crisis was thus resolved and normalcy returned.
Peter Obi had it rough from the onset. He contested with
Chris Ngige of the PDP and lost. Obi would not take it lightly, took Ngige to
court and, after years of litigation, won back his seat. Happy and feeling
victorious, Peter Obi seized his mandate in March 2006 and began his tenure as
an APGA governor.
But the state house of assembly remained majorly controlled by the PDP and it proved to be a union headed for the rocks. After just seven months in office, Peter Obi was impeached. The very next day, his seat was taken by Virginia Etiaba, a PDP stalwart.
Again, Obi headed for the law courts and challenged his impeachments.
Three months later, he was re-instated.
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