Drama, fireworks as Enugu Deputy Governor’s lawyer cross examines witnesses at impeachment panel sitting

Posted by News Express | 11 August 2014 | 4,776 times

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Details have emerged of how lawyers representing the Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr. I. I. Eze, and the State Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, clashed over press coverage at the last sitting of the panel set up to investigate alleged impeachable offences against Mr. Onyebuchi. The main allegations against the deputy governor border on the keeping of a poultry farm within the premises of the Government House and alleged disrespect for Governor Sullivan Chime.  

A summary of the proceedings of the stormy sitting of last Friday, August 8, in the possession of News Express also revealed the drama that played out during the cross examination of the Medical Director of the Government House Medical Centre, Dr. Anthony Ogbonna; Commissioner of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, Mr. Ikechukwu Ugwuegede; and Chief Protocol to the Governor of Enugu State, Barr. Emeka Asogwa.

The report reads as follows:

“The Panel started sitting at about 9:05am on Friday 8th day of August, 2014. The counsel that represented the Enugu State House of Assembly Mr. I. I. Eze, referred the panel to the reportage in the internet and newspapers about the last proceedings of the Panel. He said he was worried because the reports are slanted and not the true reflections of the proceedings. He said that the Punch of 8th August, 2014 has a story that reads thus:

“ ‘But in an encounter with the journalists after the Panel adjourned proceedings Sunday Onyebuchi faulted the evidence of the witnesses for embellishing the evidence with falsehood.’

He further told the Panel that other headings in the newspapers include ‘Enugu Chicken Impeachment’.

“He submitted that such report is an embarrassment to the State and urged the panel to ban the press from attending the proceedings of the Panel. Mr. Aghanwa who represented the Deputy Governor expressed surprise at the attitude of the counsel for the Enugu State House of Assembly. Mr. Aghanwa told the panel that the press has already been refused entry at the gate of the court premises by the secretary of the Panel, Mr. Vin Aneke even when the Panel has not made an order to that effect. He further said that the essence of involving press by the Panel is to show that the Panel is transparent in its proceedings. He urged the Panel to allow the press to be present in the proceeding.

“Nonetheless the chairman of the Panel after considering the situation ordered that the proceedings be conducted in camera. The Panel stated that it is empowered to conduct its proceedings in private and therefore banned the press from attending the proceedings of the Panel.

“The proceedings continued with the cross examination of Dr. Anthony Ogbonna, the medical director at the Government House medical centre. Dr. Ogbonna denied having knowledge of a poultry farm in the residence of the Deputy Governor until recently even though he has worked as a physician in the Government House since 1994. He also told the panel that there is an agric unit in the government house and that some time ago an ostrich and a monkey once attacked people and inflicted injury on them at the Government House.

“The Chairman and Commissioner of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority Mr. Ikechukwu Ugwuegede also testified before the panel. He told the Panel that he removed the birds from the poultry unit at the Deputy Governor’s lodge on 27th January, 2014 but when he was asked where the birds are, he said he does not know. He admitted that the birds at the poultry were laying eggs but still removed the birds.

“The Chief Protocol to the Governor of Enugu State Barr Emeka Asogwa also testified. Barr Asogwa in the course of his evidence displayed aggressive tendencies towards the counsel representing the Deputy Governor and had to be cautioned by the Chairman of the Panel. He told the Panel that he has been in the protocol department of the Government House for over 20 years. He contradicted himself when he said he became chief of protocol 4 to 5 years ago and when asked when he was appointed chief protocol, he said it was in June 30 or 31, 2008. He said that he is in charge of Governor’s appointments and engagements and publishes the daily manifest of the Governor. He stated that anytime a function crops up and the Governor is not available and does not leave a specific instruction on who will represent him at the function that he (the chief protocol) will contact the Governor and take clearance from the Governor on who is to represent him at the function. He told the Panel that on 4th June 2014, the Governor directed him to ask the Deputy Governor to represent him at the burial of Ezinne Alice Ocho Nnamani at Agbani on 5th June 2014 but the Deputy Governor refused. He further stated that on 11th March 2014, the Deputy Governor refused to represent the Governor at the Flag off and Ground Breaking ceremony of the second Niger Bridge performed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at Onitsha. But upon being informed that there is a video showing the presence of the Deputy Governor of Enugu State sitting together with the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke at the said occasion, Mr. Asogwa somersaulted and admitted that the Deputy Governor of Enugu State was present at the occasion. Surprisingly the Chief Protocol was not at the occasion but relied on the knowledge he got from a third party.

“The Chief Protocol also told the Panel that the Deputy Governor refused to represent the Governor at the South East Governors’ Forum on the 6th of July, 2014. According to the Chief Protocol, he delivered the manifest informing the Deputy Governor about the South East Governors Forum scheduled to hold on 6th July 2014 on the night of Saturday around 10:30 - 11pm on 5th July to the security man of the Deputy Governor to attend a function that was to hold the next day. Mr. Asogwa admitted that he was not sure if the Deputy Governor was in town neither did he call the Deputy Governor to inform him about the urgency of the function whose manifest was delivered at about 10:30 to 11pm.

“The Panel adjourned its proceeding to 11th August, 2014 for continuation.”

•Photo shows Enugu State Deputy Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi.

Source: News Express

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