The lawmakers of the Imo State House of Assembly have officially served an impeachment notice on the embattled Deputy Governor of the state, Prince Eze Madumere.
This is even as hundreds of the supporters of the deputy governor took to the major roads in the state capital on Tuesday to protest the ongoing impeachment proceedings on the state’s second citizen.
The impeachment notice, which was served on the deputy governor through substituted means (newspaper publications) on Tuesday in Owerri was signed by the Speaker, Acho Ihim and 13 other lawmakers.
When our correspondent visited the office of the deputy governor Tuesday afternoon, the notice of gross misconduct was pasted at the entrance door to his office
Other lawmakers who signed the impeachment notice are Ugonna Ozuruigbo (Nwangele), Chinedu Offor (Onuimo), Ikechukwu Amuka (Ideato South ), Lawrence Duruji (Ehime Mbano), Uche Ejiogu (Ihite Uboma), Henry Ezediaro (Oguta), Maxwell Odunze (Orlu), Lloyd Chukwuemeka (Owerri North), Chika Madumere (Nkwerre), Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba), Ngozi Obiefule (Isu), Victor Onyewuchi (Owerri west), and Arthur Egwim (Ideato North)
The impeachment notice which was titled, ‘Notice of gross misconduct’, outlined the alleged misconduct and addressed to Madumere.
The notice alleged that the deputy governor had “concealment of felonious conduct affecting the presentation of self as an eligible candidate of office of deputy governor, Imo State, having been convicted and imprisoned for theft in the United States of America.”
Other allegations of misconduct include “absence without official reason of permission duly obtained from office for a period of three months.”
The state House of Assembly allegedly backed by Governor Rochas Okorocha had accused Madumere, among other things, of abandoning his duties and office as the state’s number two citizen for a long time.
The lawmakers also accused Madumere of refusing to carry out official duties assigned to him by the governor; refusal to attend State Executive Council meetings; and refusal to hold meetings with the governor and commissioners, among others.
The notice of service according to the Speaker was in pursuant to Section 188(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution.
It read partly “Take notice that pursuant to Section 188(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution, I, Right Honourable Acho Ihim, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Imo State of Nigeria, do, hereby, serve upon you, Prince Eze Madumere, Deputy Governor, Imo State of Nigeria, the notice of misconduct, duly issued under the hand of not less than one-third of the members of the Imo State House of Assembly.”
Meanwhile, protesters numbering over 3,000 on Tuesday took over the major streets of Owerri, the capital of Imo State, to register their grievances over the plot to impeach Madumere.
The House during Wednesday’s sitting, ordered the Clerk of the House, Chris Duru, to write the state Chief Judge, Paschal Nnadi, to probe the allegations and ascertain if the deputy governor was guilty of gross misconduct as contained in a petition signed by 13 members of the House.
But the protesters described the move against Madumere as a grave injustice, saying that the allegations were trumped up charges aimed at impeaching the deputy governor for daring to oppose Okorocha’s position to install his son-in-law as the next governor of the state.
The protesters had taken over the streets of Owerri as early as 6 am, chanting various anti-Okorocha songs, accusing the governor of masterminding what they termed as kangaroo charges against his deputy.
They maintained that Madumere was innocent of all the charges being levelled against him.
They also described the state House of Assembly as the worst Imo had ever had, calling it a mere rubber stamp in the hand of Okorocha.
They also carried placards with various inscriptions such as, “Okorocha leave Madumere alone;” “Okorocha, must you foist your son-in-law on Imo people?”; “We are in a democracy not in ‘familiocracy;’” “We say no to Okorocha’s third term agenda;” “APC will not accept the imposition of family candidate;” “NWC, rise up before we lose Imo to PDP;” and “We appeal to President Buhari to intervene in Imo situation.”
“Okorocha controls the House as his personal estate, without reference to the feelings and aspirations of the citizenry,” they said.
The protest, which brought vehicular and human movements to a standstill, saw workers abandoning their vehicles to walk long distances to their places of work.
Traders were also not spared in the agony as major streets such as Wetheral, Okigwe Road, Assumpta Avenue, Tetlow Road and other adjoining streets were shut down as a result of the surging crowd.
Addressing newsmen, one of the leaders, Mr Chidiebere Nworgu, lamented that the state was sliding “into a one-man business, where an individual now treats Imolites with levity.”
He maintained that it’s high time Imo citizens resisted such undemocratic tendencies coming from Okorocha.
The lawyer further called on the clergy and the elite to speak out against this injustice against Madumere and other Imo citizens.
He queried; “Where has Madumere derailed? This is a man who has been discharging his duties conscientiously coupled with infectious humility. Is it not the same Okorocha that told us that the deputy governor that does not give him stress, which made him pronounce in various fora that “Prince Madumere is a son in whom he is well pleased.”
He further attributed the love lost between the governor and the deputy to Madumere’s insistence in taking his destiny in his hand by making himself available to contest the governorship of the state against Okorocha’s resolve to foist his son-in-law on the citizenry.
Nworgu, however, explained that the charter of equity must be adhered to, insisting that it was the turn of Owerri zone to produce the next governor in 2019.
In his contribution, Stanley Onuoha, said there was nothing wrong in Madumere’s decision to pursue his ambition, noting that it was only God that could give power.
He charged Nigerian politicians to stop playing God in pursuit of self-aggrandisement.
Onuoha maintained that the deputy governor was eminently qualified to govern the state with his education, cognate experience and exposure in the corporate world, governance and impeccable strength of character.
Prominent leaders across the nation had continued to speak against the impeachment plot because of its negative implication in the polity.
Senator Victor Umeh, Rt. Emeka Ihedioha, and Chief Zeek-Martins Nnadozie are some prominent Imolites that had also berated Okorocha and the House of Assembly for the impeachment plot. They described it as an onslaught against democracy.