Shortly after he was impeached, the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and save the state’s All Progressives Congress (APC) from a meltdown. If the action of the Kogi State House of Assembly was not checked, he warned, there could be a breakdown of law and order.
It is not clear what he meant by a breakdown of law and order, or what he expects from his appeal to the president. The state does not have a history of civil disobedience, nor does it have a faint sense of what it means to even stand for its constitutional rights. Under their present governor, Yahaya Bello, who has either fractionalised the payment of their salaries or outrightly failed to pay wages owed some workers, long-suffering Kogites had still failed to take to the streets. They will not riot over Mr Achuba, no matter how egregiously he was cheated of his rights.
Last week, Mr Achuba was impeached by the Assembly on no grounds at all. The seven-man judicial panel set up by the state’s chief judge, Nasiru Ajana, completely exonerated the deputy governor of any wrongdoing. But barely an hour after the submission of the report by the panel led by John Baiyeshea (SAN), and despite the legislature not being in session, Mr Achuba was impeached.
The panel was aghast. Soon, a complete report of the inquiry found its way to the public domain, revealing that the deputy governor was unequivocally exonerated on all grounds. So on what grounds did the assembly impeach Mr Achuba? None? Ah, not until you hear the tortuous explanation of the assembly’s majority leader, Hassan Abdulahi, a lawmaker who was expected to reflect the depth and breadth of a supposedly honourable legislative house.
Said Mr Abdullahi: “The panel submitted its report to us, and based on the report, we gave our verdict. The rule of procedure says that the panel was a fact-finding one and as such, they were not to give judgement. This was in the rule of procedure which they accepted. They are not supposed to give any verdict in this circumstance. The decision of whether the deputy governor is guilty or not guilty is that of the House.
If you look at Section 188(11), it says that the House of Assembly is the only authority which determines what gross misconduct is. It is not for the panel to determine. How come that few minutes later, the whole reports were on social media, even before the deliberation of the House on the same report? Again, I should let you know that even the report that is in the public domain was not signed.”
The ordinary Kogite should be angry at the hypocrisy of the ruling APC, a party now giving the impression of being either wholly destitute of standard or adept at playing double standard. He should be angry that in all the confusion in Kogi State over the impeachment saga, nothing at all had come from the top party leaders in Abuja, and certainly nothing from the presidency that often claims to be the custodian of the country’s, and their party’s, ethics. It has been one unbroken and deafening silence.
The ordinary Kogite should be angry that his state is unable to muster the critical mass to stand for the truth or defend democracy, even in the face of the most horrendous torment of a civil populace ever inspired by a government. Indeed for a state afflicted by incompetent governors, the Bello governorship is without parallel. To be unable to take that government to task, and be asked to endure its chicaneries must considerably gall the ordinary Kogite.
But it is in the midst of these incongruities that the Assembly’s majority leader spewed the hooey quoted above, a jumbled mass of illogic and unrestrained tendentiousness. Not only was the majority leader misquoting the constitution and lying about the functions of a judicial panel, he also regarded Kogites as fools. He says the panel should investigate and not come to a conclusion, and that the conclusion reached by the panel was hasty and prejudicial.
In other words, Mr Abdulahi blamed the panel for concluding that the deputy governor was innocent of the allegations against him. How could investigation be done without determining guilt or innocence? And why on earth didn’t the Assembly simply go ahead without recourse to any judicial panel to pronounce guilt on the deputy governor? Why the rigmarole?
If Kogi State lawmakers and their governor took refuge in despicable logic, it was thought that the deputy governor, given the manner he was treated, would be a breath of fresh air. But by asking President Buhari to intervene in a matter that is wholly a state issue, even as defective as Nigerian federalism is, the impeached deputy governor obviously but mistakenly likens the president to Caesar.
Though this is hard to believe, Mr Achuba also appears to be completely oblivious of the immense support Abuja gives to Mr Bello. The governor is their adopted son; they would rather see the state go into perdition than forswear their support for their spoilt and pampered son.