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How coup to topple Ngige was hatched

Posted by By Okey Muogbo, Olawale Rasheed, Segun Olatunji and Segun James on 2003/07/15 | Views: 2432 |

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How coup to topple Ngige was hatched


The intricate details of how the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, survived last Thursday’s foiled bid to topple him showed that the plot was hatched with the knowledge of powerful elements in the presidency.

The intricate details of how the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, survived last Thursday’s foiled bid to topple him showed that the plot was hatched with the knowledge of powerful elements in the presidency.

Saturday Tribune learnt that Andy Uba, a Senior Personal Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo and younger brother of Chris Uba, the estranged kingmaker who installed Ngige as governor of Anambra State, might not be oblivious of the scheme.

A presidency source said Andy had the sympathy of a powerful lady in the presidency who influenced the hierarchy of the police command to effect Ngige’s arrest.

Sources said President Obasanjo immediately ordered full investigation into the crisis when he was briefed about the incident on the phone on Thursday night while in Maputo, Mozambique for a summit of African leaders.

The President reportedly threatened that whoever was indicted over the crisis would be severely dealt with, no matter how highly placed.

A source who had knowledge of the plot to depose Ngige, said the scheme would have sailed through if he had been successfully placed incommunicado for a few days.

"This would have allowed the deputy governor to settle down and it would have been too late for Ngige to reclaim his seat by the time he resurfaced. Even if he had gone to court, the case would have dragged on for over two years," said the source.

The governor returned to his office around 1.00p.m yesterday at the instance of the Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

While he was still held hostage on Thursday evening, in his hotel room at Awka, Ngige had used the GSM handset of one of the attendants at the hotel to call the Vice President and notify him of his ordeal.

A source said Ngige had been completely cut off, as the AIG who led the team that effected his arrest, Rapheal Ige, had ordered that all his handsets be withdrawn from him.

The shell-shocked Vice President asked the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, what was happening and asked him to tell his men to release the embattled Anambra State Governor.

Contradicting views emerged from the Senate on Friday, as the leadership dissociated itself from the statement made by the chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator Mohammed Daggash, condemning the crisis in Anambra State.

Few hours after Senator Daggash had briefed newsmen, stating that Anambra state governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, remained the authentic governor of the state, the Senate President, Adolphus Wabara and the deputy senate leader, Jonathan Zwingina, said Daggash was not speaking for the Senate.

Wabara and Zwingina were so unhappy with Daggash that they summoned the leadership of the Senate press corps to tell the reporters not to write what Daggash said.

According to Zwingina who spoke in the presence of Wabara, he explained that Senate had not condemned or supported the crisis.

He added that the Senate would meet on Tuesday to deliberate on the matter and take a decision on the crisis.

Daggash, the spokesman of the Senate, had told reporters that the crisis in Anambra state was condemnable and that the Senate still recognised Ngige as the Governor of the state.

It was not clear as at press time, why the leadership of the Senate pressurised Daggash into retracting what he said.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has ordered full investigation into the arranged removal of the Anambra State governor, Dr. Chris Ngige from office on Thursday under the pretext that he willingly resigned.

An impeccable source revealed to Saturday Tribune that President Obasanjo who was away in Maputo for the African Union meeting when the incident happened, was shocked to the bone when he was briefed about the development.

He was said to have ordered full investigation into the ugly development with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book. ST learnt that President Obasanjo wanted to know the roles played by individuals, groups, the State Security Services (SSS), the police and the presidency in the civilian coup that rocked Anambra State on Thursday.

The source revealed that President Obasanjo vowed to deal ruthlessly with anybody or organization involved in the ugly incident in order to save the nascent democracy.

The President in addition reportedly directed the Inspector General of Police, the SSS and the office of his National Security Adviser (NSA) to restore normalcy in Anambra State and effect the immediate release from detention all the aides of Governor Ngige that were arrested by the police.

President Obasanjo was said to have frowned at the attitude of the police and the way the police allowed themselves to be used to perpetrate the illegality in Anambra state.

The source hinted that heads might roll within the top hierachy of the Nigeria Police for allegedly carrying out unlawful orders without taking cognisance of the provisions of the constitution of the country.

"The President was sad about the ugly development in Anambra. When he was briefed, he couldn’t believe it, he asked many questions but at the end of the day, he vowed to defend the constitution and the nascent democracy even with the last drop of his blood," the source added.

He said Obasanjo wondered why the police could descend so low under a democratic system of government and arrest a democratically elected governor of a state.

The source said that the President was worried about the development more so that it happened at a time when the American President was visiting the country.

The National secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had also condemned the Anambra incident and briefed the President on telephone about actions already taken to restore normalcy.

Meanwhile, an impeccable police source told ST on Friday that several names had been pencilled down for questioning over the unfolding events in Anambra.

Those to be quizzed, the source said, include Chief Chris Uba, two members of the National Assembly, the state Governor, speaker of the state House of Assembly, principal officers and members of the state House Assembly, the clerk of the state House of Assembly, the Chief Judge, the party chairman of the party, the security aides to the governor and a host of others.

The source also revealed that the presidency would overhaul the security around the governor and the state in general because of the ugly incident.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the conference of South East governors, Chief Orji Kalu yesterday summoned an urgent meeting of the group at 6:30pm in Enugu to discuss the incident.

He condemned the abduction of Ngige and promised to "press for an independent investigative team to be set up to fish out the culprits for prosecution".

Also, the Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, yesterday, described the happening in Anambra State as a coup de t’at which should be condemned with every seriousness by right thinking people.

The governor who spoke to newsmen before departing for Abuja to join President Olusegun Obasanjo in receiving the visiting President of the United States of America, Mr. George W. Bush, also condemned the role played by the deputy governor, Dr. Okechukwu Udeh, who hastily took over power, knowing fully well that all the actions were illegal.

A visibly angry Ibori also called to question the role of the Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police Zone 9, Mr. Raphael Ige, who alleged that he was acting under orders from above to take the governor to protective custody.

Ibori stated that the governor, as the chief executive and chief security officer of the state, does not require any form of custody, be it protective or otherwise as said by the AIG.

Fuming with rage, Ibori insisted that the action of the Deputy Governor in particular not only smacked of betrayal, but the height of intolerable political brigandage.

Ibori said he would rally counterparts across the nation to uphold and defend the mandate of Governor Ngige.

He described the situation in Anambra as treasonable, vowing that all Governors in the country would support Dr. Ngige at this hour of his tribulation.

Ibori, wondered how a governor could resign his office in secrecy and be taken into custody, if indeed he resigned under his own free will.

He, therefore, pledged to do all he could to assist the governor and people of Anambra State to prevent what he called the political hooliganism and flagrant abuse of democracy by some immature and toddler politicians in Anambra State".

Adamawa State Governor, Mr. Bonie Haruna has described the alleged ouster of Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, as treason which must not be allowed to pass unpunished.

All those directly or remotely involved in the civilian coup, according to Governor Haruna, should be made to face the music in the interest of the rule of law.

The Adamawa State Governor who was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday to see Vice President Atiku Abubakar, expressed shock at the development in Anambra State.

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