What Does Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi Want?
The judgement of Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja concerning five Governors is not only a landmark judgement but has been hailed by people who believe that the rule of law provides a beacon of hope for Nigeria's democracy. The judgement says that the first tenure of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan and Governor Timpre Sylva will end in 2015 and 2012 respectively. The two Governors and Ibrahim Idris, Kogi, Aliu Wamakko, Sokoto, Murtala Nyako, Adamawa and Liyel Imoke, Cross River had asked the Court to stop the People's Democratic Party, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from conducting the April 2011 Elections in their respective States on the ground that they had just been sworn-in after their earlier elections in 2007 were either voided or cancelled by the Court of Appeal.
The Governors who won their re-run elections noted in court papers that INEC erred by insisting that their tenures end in May 29 2011, adding that they took fresh Oaths of office and Oaths of Allegiance after their initial removal from office by the Appeal Court had voided the 2007 Oaths. Justice Bello ruled that all the six PDP Governors will not stand for elections in April, paving the way for Governor Uduaghan who just won a re-run in January 2011 to be eligible for a re election in 2015. The TSPG believes that Justice indeed has been served because there is no judicial system around the world that allows retroactive application of laws.
In Bayelsa State, majority of the voting population have embraced the court's decision with immense optimism and celebration, given the tense atmosphere the opposition Labour Party created during electioneering campaigns. A permanent Secretary who preferred anonymity said 'Bayelsa people can now breathe a sigh of relief because those stories of fighting, bombasts and concocted plans to create a climate of fear to incite a breach of the peace have been put behind us. We thank God for the judgment, he said.
Another interesting dimension is the Ebebi conundrum. Ebebi, has navigated the political turf of Bayelsa State since May 1999, and may well be one of the oldest and luckiest and richest politicians in Bayelsa State. On account of the internal bickering within the PDP which led to his impeachment in June 2010, he decamped to the Labour Party. In the eyes of the law and the people, Ebebi is a Labour Party Chieftain and has paid several courtesy visits to Opokuma- the supposed Mecca of the opposition until the Appeal court in Port Harcourt passed a judgment that the status quo be maintained.
The use of the term status quo has posed another great challenge to the interpreters of the law. Whereas, we are not interpreting the intent of the Law Court, the idea of the status quo is nebulous and at best creates room for some ambivalent interpretations. . While some people interpret the status quo to mean the time the former Deputy Governor was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, others hold the view that the status quo ante implies when the embattled Deputy Governor instituted a court action against the procedural anomalies of the impeachment process. On the part of the BSHA, it surely means the time after his impeachment.
Whichever way it is interpreted, the fact remains that the Deputy Governor impeached himself administratively even before the BSHA commenced impeachment proceedings. He allegedly granted a Press Conference and told the public that he could not work with Governor Timipre Sylva. This action of insubordination is regarded by as against decorum, work ethics and public morality. It was also reported that he willfully absconded from office and this could be interpreted as a well orchestrated attempt to paralyze the machinery of State. All the files referred to his office lay unattended to. His colleagues in and aides (who preferred that their names be not mentioned) complained and confirmed that he never made any substantial contributions to policy formulation and implementation partly because of lack of capacity and devoting so much time chasing contracts. . One Commissioner who was removed in a minor cabinet shake-up praised Governor Sylva as a man with a large heart, because according to him 'no Governor would tolerate a sleeping- and-snoring-on-duty deputy who made himself a monumental liability and an excess luggage to be disposed of lest the entire cabinet collapses. Even the public service rules affirm that sleeping on duty is an offence.
Even before his impeachment, rumours were rife that he connived with ex-militants to explode dynamites and then turned around to blame the Governor for the vile and dastardly act. This veneer of criminality is something a man worthy of that high calling should not exhibit. It can be likened to executive brigandage, fifth Colum activity and an unpardonable offence. Our Independent investigations revealed that When Mr. President was Governor; he merely tolerated Ebebi because of the circumstances of his ascendancy to power. Besides he is a man of peace.
There is a plethora of reported cases of corruption and capturing of benefits belonging to Ekeremor people. It has been widely publicized that Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi has acquired stupendous wealth, which has become a source of embarrassment to Governor Timipre Sylva and President Jonathan-a reason Mr. President refused to intervene during his impeachment
Reports have it that when Governor Goodluck Jonathan proceeded on a 7-day leave and Ebebi-the Deputy Governor held proxy for the Governor. The sum of N3.2 billion was misappropriated in the form of frivolous contracts awarded to members of the House of Assembly without due process. It was said that this profligate attitude has never gone down well with Governor Timipre Sylva.
On assumption of office, the Sylva administration has been making concerted efforts to at entrenching transparency and accountability as the basic conditions for good governance. For that reason, government has put in place the Public Procurement Law and the Fiscal Responsibility Law, but unfortunately the Deputy Governor, who is a Lawyer, knows nothing about transparency and fiscal discipline. In some quarters, it is believed that the former Deputy Governor. Peremobowei Ebebi displayed wealth and affluence unbecoming of a public servant. Generally, when people make money they whose sources they cannot justify, eyebrows are raised and the searchlight of the anti-graft agencies beamed on such public officers. A former aide to Ebebi confided in a news correspondent in Warri that anonymity said if four persons like his oga could pool their resources together; Bayelsa State would have built some industries to employ the youths they are using as body guards, and this will also attract investment.
His kinsmen have also written several petitions that Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi cornered development projects allocated to his constituency. Our investigations revealed that the impeached Deputy Governor is directly linked to the following contracts awarded to Aleibiri his Community.
Collecting huge sums of money from the Bayelsa State Government on account of a contract for the Dredging & Sand filing of Aleibiri New Town Development. The multi-billion Naira project has now been abandoned. Illegal conversion of 2 NO. 500KVA Generators for the Aleibiri Community. Misappropriation of monies earmarked for a contract to convert the Aleibiri Health Centre into a General Hospital.
Using his position in Government to influence the award of a contract to build a modern Secretariat Complex for the Aleibiri Local Government Headquarters. Our investions were inconclusive but people allege that he cornered the money and rather built a bungalow in place of a Secretariat. It was also disclosed that attempts by some chiefs to protest the injustice met with stiff resistance since Ebebi's father is the traditional ruler of the Aleibiri Community. In a last ditch attempt to cover up this fraudulent action, Ebebi bribed each of the 20 Chiefs of Aleibiri the sum of One Million Naira, (N1, 000,000.00) to work against the opposition.
The only explanation to the huge assets and monies acquired by the former Deputy Governor is that he exercised undue influence to award contracts to his own companies, fronts and cronies, and this act negates the public procurement law. People also allege that he diverted public funds into private accounts to acquire property at the expense of the people.
Bayelsan have not forgotten that during the Governorship of Dr, Goodluck Jonathan, Ebebi frittered away the resources of the State through frivolous contracts awarded to members of the House of Assembly without due process. Authentic sources disclosed that on account of his profligacy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (then Governor of Bayelsa State), took deliberate steps to curtail his approval limit in line with due process.
Ebebi has neither absolved himself nor accounted for the N29.6m overseas medical treatment allowance approved for him by Governor Sylva in February, 2009, which was one of the ten grounds for his impeachment. The non-accountability of such funds is bad precedent that is capable of polluting the public service. We believe that the former Deputy Governor abused his office and refused to live up to the higher ideals that are deserving of his position.
We the members of TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL GROUP make a passionate plea that the Appeal Court should clarify the clause 'status quo' as there is already a substantive Deputy Governor Rt. Hon. Werinipre Seibarugu, who enjoys excellent working relationship with Governor Timipre Sylva. Besides, Bayelsa State is a PDP controlled State and Ebebi has decamped to the Labour Party. He has gone further to traduce the PDP, on which platform he has enjoyed the perquisites of public office and has lost the confidence of the people. Reinstating the impeached Deputy Governor is like forcing a marriage that has irretrievable broken down and such actions would only accentuate mutual suspicion, ill-will and stagnate the development of the State. The implications this action would have on the electoral fortunes of PDP can better be imagined. The purported procedural errors of the impeachment process notwithstanding, the good governance we collective seek can only be entrenched if matters are decided res judicata so as not to create loopholes for mischief makers to exploit to cause constitutional crisis. On the contrary, The TSPG, in conjunction with three Civil Societies: are exploring constitutional means to ensure that the former Deputy Governor Hon Peremobowei Ebebi, gives account and makes full restitution for the heinous crime committed against his own community and the good people of Bayelsa State.
MacDonald Miebi Esq. Richard Omagbemi Mrs. Rhoda Mieseigha TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL GROUP