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IMPEACHMENT: CLOCK TICKS FOR BAYELSA DEP GOV, AS CJ SETS UP 7 MAN PANEL

By NBF News
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The Bayelsa State Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, has constituted a seven-man panel to investigate allegations against Deputy Governor, Peremobowei Ebebi. The House of Assembly had at a resolution passed by two-third majority on June 8 requested Justice Kate Abiri to constitute the panel to investigate the allegations against Ebebi.

Members of the panel are D. C. Denwigwe, (SAN), R. N. Tapre, Revd. T. Y. Emmanuel, Mrs. Loviah Gboluseri, Mr. Ukari Oduma, Mrs. Flora Folorunsho and Mr. J. J. William West.

Investigations indicated that most of the panel members except Oduma are not from Bayelsa State and do not reside in the state.

Section 188 Sub Section 5 states that: 'The chief judge of the state shall at the request of the Speaker of the House of Assembly appoint a panel of seven persons who in his opinion are of unquestionable integrity, not being members of any public service, legislative house or political party, to investigate the allegations as provided in this section.

There was, however, conflicting reports on the actual date when she constituted the panel as one report said she constituted the panel on June 9, the second day after she received the request from the House of Assembly while another version said the panel was constituted on Monday, when the period she was to constitute the panel was expected to expire.

But a judiciary source who insisted that the panel was constituted on June 9, noted that Justice Abiri, because of her strict nature, decided to make it discreet so as to insulate the panel members from any influence from the executive arm of government or any other person.

The source added that the composition of the panel was a demonstration of the neutrality of Justice Abiri in the whole issue, adding that by not inaugurating the panel publicly was deliberate because impeachment is a sensitive and serious issue.

The Chief Registrar of the state judiciary, Mr. Iniekenimi Uzaka, who corroborated the explanation, maintained that not revealing the names of the members publicly was for security reasons.

Investigations revealed that the panel members have commenced work with their inaugural sitting yesterday as security had been beefed up at a government motel along Hospital Road where they are being accommodated.

Meanwhile, counsel to Ebebi, Mr  Kemasuode Wodu  had said it was not true that the panel had been inaugurated because of the suit filed in court.

He said, he would be surprised if in defiance of a suit in court, the panel had been inaugurated to investigate the allegations against his client.