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Sylva Vs. Ebebi: Court Of Appeal Voids Deputy's Impeachment

By THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 16, (THEWILL) – A Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, Rivers State today quashed the impeachment of the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Peremobowei Ebebi and ordered his reinstatement as the substantive Deputy Governor of the state.

The court also set aside the appointment of the incumbent deputy, Werinipre Seibarugu.

The three part judgement by the court presided over by Justice Vantigo Mohammed faulted the process the process that led to the impeachment of Ebebi, voided the appointment of Werinipre and ordered the State High Court to hear the suit filed by Ebebi blocking his impeachment by 17 lawmakers in the House of Assembly.

But in a reaction to the court’s judgement, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Chief Nathan Egba in a statement said: “The Court directed the parties to maintain status quo and the lower court to hear Mr Ebebi's earlier suit. The court quashed the impeachment but did not direct the re-instatement of the impeached Deputy Governor.

“Consequently, the scenario is not quite clear, a situation that can only be subject to further legal clarification. In the light of the above, Bayelsa State Government hereby call on the people to remain calm and go about their usual activities as there is no cause for alarm whatsoever.

“Governor Timipre Sylva wishes to re-assure the people of the State that the situation is under control as the government is monitoring the legal process and taking appropriate steps.”



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Etulan Walson | 2/18/2011 12:12:00 AM
INITIATIVE FOR THE RESTORATION OF ACCOUNTABILTY (IRA)

Ekeki, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
initiativerestorationfaccount345.com


July 2, 2010


The Executive Chairman
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Abuja

Madam,

EFCC: PROSECUTE THE IMPEACHED DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF BAYELSA STATE HON. PEREMOBOWEI EBEBI NOW

Introduction

We have written to your highly esteemed Commission about the need to investigate Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi, the former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State in 2009 and sometime in 2010. In our previous petitions, we asserted that Hon. Ebebi had corruptly enriched himself for 11 consecutive years during which he served in various capacities. In particular, we called your attention to the numerous property acquired by Ebebi, which are beyond his legitimate incomes. We felt EFCC was reluctant to prosecute him because of the veil of immunity which covered him as Deputy Governor. As you may be aware, so many public officers hide under the veil of immunity to perpetrate horrendous atrocities. Now, it is gratifying to note that the veil of immunity has been removed following his impeachment in June 2010.

Bayelsa State has been denied much-needed development since her creation because of official corruption perpetrated by public officers. The Initiative For the Restoration of Accountability (IRA) is not comfortable with the trend of arrested development. IRA has taken the responsibility of advocacy and creating awareness to strengthen governmental institutions to insulate them against corruption to promote accountability. We are now going the extra mile of soliciting the support of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate some brazen cases of corruption and prosecute such cases so that it would serve as a deterrent to other public office holders. We believe that with the timely intervention of EFCC, the State will recover part of the monies stolen by public officers and deploy such funds to the provision of health and educational infrastructure in the State.

Our case against Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi is that he used his privileged position as Deputy Governor and awarded contracts running to several billions of Naira to himself and his cronies. Our investigations revealed that the impeached Deputy Governor is directly linked to the following contracts awarded to Aleibiri – his Community.

1. The Bayelsa State Government awarded a contract for the Dredging & Sand filing of ALEIBIRI NEW TOWN DEVELOPMENT. There are allegations that Hon. Ebebi collected monies for the execution of the contract and abandoned the project. The impeached Deputy Governor is directly linked to the abandonment of the multi-billion project.

2. The Bayelsa State Government approved the establishment of a TECHNICAL COLLEGE for Aleibiri Community. This laudable project did not see the light of day.


3. Allegations are rife that Hon. Ebebi also denied the community the accomplishment of that project because the funds earmarked for the project was misappropriated.

4. Government provided 2 500KVA Generators for the Aleibiri Community. These facilities have been privatized at the expense of the Community. The 2 generators have been converted into personal property.

5. The contract to convert the Aleibiri Health Centre into a General Hospital, but the money so earmarked was embezzled. Accusing fingers are pointed at the Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi for deliberately stalling the execution of the project.

6. Government also awarded a contract to build a modern Secretariat Complex for the Aleibiri Local Government Headquarters, but our investigations showed that the money earmarked for the project was pocketed by Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi. He built a bungalow in place of a Secretariat. Consequently, the Chiefs and elders of the Community protested. To cover up these irregularities, Ebebi paid each of the 20 Chiefs of Aleibiri the sum of One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) to work against the opposition.



The list of such properties fraudulently acquired is not exhaustive. The deduction is that Hon. Ebebi used his office to influence the award of contracts and made money through corrupt means. Most of the said contracts were awarded without due process. Through such contracts, Ebebi diverted public funds into private accounts to acquire property at the expense of the people.

Our casual investigations in and around Yenagoa revealed that the following properties are owned by Hon. Ebebi.


EBEBI'S PROPERTY IN YENAGOA

LOCATION TYPE OF REAL ESTATE VALUE IN NAIRA

1. Agudama by Chief Powell's Building Mansion 250 million
2. Old INEC Road Opposite Latik 2 Buildings 110 million
3. Baybridge Road Mansion 110 million
4. Bay Bridge Filing Station 550 million
5. Ogu Town 270 Plots of Land 270 million
6. Igbogene Gateway Road 400 Plots of Land 400 million
7. Old PDP Road Building 40 million
8. Biogbolo Ebebi's Junction Mansion 500 million
9. Latik Hotel Old INEC Road Hotel 550 million
10. Customs Road Building 70 million
11. Erepa Road Building 40 million
12. Agudama Building 70million
13. Bay Bridge Opposite Ebi's Residence Estate 600 million
14. Aleibiri 4 Storey Hotel Mansion 450 million
15. Aleibiri Mansion 870 million
16. Tuomo Water Front One Building 91 million
17. Tuomo Inland Mansion 550million

We have not concluded investigations on several other property, but as we continue to with our independent investigation, we believe it is the right time for the EFCC to commence investigations into the aforementioned properties. When a man engages in primitive accumulation and deprives the people of what rightly belongs to the people, there comes a day of reckoning. As a result of his corrupt enrichment, Bayelsans from his constituency are denied basic health facilities, quality education and potable water. We the members of the Initiative for the Restoration of Accountability on behalf of the people of Bayelsa State want Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi prosecuted. Without delay before he escapes from Nigeria. The stagnated development in the State is partly the result of such cases of mindless diversion of public funds. The allegations of corrupt enrichment and diversion of public funds also constituted some of the grounds for his impeachment.


ILLEGAL DEDUCTIONS FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS

In particular, we want the EFCC to investigate the management of Local Government Funds in the State from 2006 till 2009. We learnt on good authority that during this period, Hon Ebebi was in charge of the management of Local Governments Funds. During this period, the Initiative was reliably informed that Ebebi circumvented official procedures of accountability and made illegal deductions of N5 million in each of the 24 LGAs. There were also reports that he deducted more money from the 8 federally recognized LGAs. The allegation that this ill-gotten wealth was used to land and landed property has been proved by the huge properties.



EMBEZZLEMENT OF N3.2 BILLION

Another area where the impeached Deputy Governor could be investigated is the allegation that the Hon. Ebebi misappropriated huge sums of money when Governor Goodluck Jonathan proceeded on a 7-day leave and Ebebi held forte for him. It is on record that Ebebi misappropriated the sum of N3.2 billion in the form of 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.

MISMANAGEMENT OF 29.6 MILLION MEDICAL TREATMENT ALLOWANCE

Ebebi should also account 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.



The Initiative For the Restoration of Accountability challenges the EFCC to investigate the aforementioned allegations against Hon. Peremobowei Ebebi since the he is not covered by immunity any longer. We will also explore other constitutional means to recover the ill-gotten wealth of Hon. Ebebi, and we expect him to make full restitution for the heinous crime committed against his own community.

Initiative For the Restoration of Accountability advocates for good governance through accountable leadership at all levels. No State or Community can make the desired progress if public office holders are not held accountable for the expenditure of public resources. We reaffirm our confidence in the EFCC and demand a comprehensive investigation into this matter.




Dr. Theophilus Ebikebina

For and on behalf of:
Initiative for the Restoration of Accountability (IRA)