Posted by By Samuel Oyadongha on
A LETTER purportedly written by embattled Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State to the impeached speaker of the state Assembly, Mr. Boyelayefa Debekeme, was partly responsible for the ouster of the former speaker and his deputy, Vanguard can now reveal.
YENAGOA — A LETTER purportedly written by embattled Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State to the impeached speaker of the state Assembly, Mr. Boyelayefa Debekeme, was partly responsible for the ouster of the former speaker and his deputy, Vanguard can now reveal.
In the September 1, 2005 letter, the governor was said to have notified the speaker of his intention to be away for 120 days. The governor was arrested on September 15 in London and thereafter slammed with a three-count charge of money laundering.
Vanguard gathered that Mr. Debekeme kept the letter away from other members, fueling doubts over its authenticity. The House was unable to sit after the governor’s arrest until last Friday and Monday when the speaker and his deputy were sacked.
The Assembly has since confirmed Deputy Governor Goodluck Jonathan as acting governor.
The elevation of the deputy governor to the status of acting governor followed a motion moved on the floor of the House by Mr Benaduomeni Dein, representing Ekeremor Constituency II and seconded by Mr Nelson Belief, representing Brass Constituency I.
Citing section 190 of the 1999 constitution which states that whenever the governor transmits to the Speaker of the House a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the function of his office, such functions can be discharged by the deputy governor. The motion which was overwhelmingly supported by 11 of the 12 members on the floor of House was, however, opposed by Mr Williams Ofoni who argued that the House lacked competence on the issue. In an interview with newsmen at the end of the sitting, the new Speaker, Mr Peremobowei Ebebi, who confirmed the elevation of the deputy governor as acting governor said it was unusual for the governor to be away from office for 120 days.
The speaker who also dismissed the claim of the former leadership that their impeachment was unconstitutional, said they were removed by two-third majority and as such remained impeached. Excerpts from the interview:
We heard 14 of your members went to Port Harcourt with a resolution that the impeachment of the former speaker and his deputy was unconstitutional?
I heard it but did not hear it on radio. One of my aides told me. I want you people to discountenance that news from the radio. It is possible one of the disgruntled impeached former leaders of the House must have engineered them. As we are speaking, the impeachment was done with the majority of members of the House and a lot of them are here (Government House). So disregard that report.
When did you receive the letter (Alamieyeseigha's notice) that was discussed on the floor of the House today?
The letter is dated September 1, 2005 but I saw a copy of it last week. So we advised Mr. Speaker that we should treat the letter to move the state forward but he started dribbling us until we held a meeting in his office last Friday relating to this matter and he walked out on us. So, arrogance is one of his offences.
What was the content of the letter?
The content, he asked for leave that he would not be around for quite sometime, resting in London.
How many days?
One hundred and twenty days.
What if he does not come back before the expiration of the time, what will happen?
What will happen, will happen now.
If you know it, you say it (laughter).
Will he re-apply or you will renew it?
Of course, he will not reapply. Even the one he applied is unusual but because of the peculiar circumstances, it is our fervent hope that he would come back within that period. Meanwhile, we have not even discussed the validity of the number of days. We have only dealt with acting governor issue but if members feel we should also discuss that matter, then we will all discuss it. I cannot dictate to them.
Could one, therefore, begin to count from this time you have seen the letter?
As far as we are concerned, I think it should be from the date it was sent.
But what does the constitution say about the limit to which a governor can be away?
I have not seen anything on the constitution that a governor can be away for a particular number of days. Some have said 90 days, others have said 60 days but the exact number of days I don’t know. It is unusual for somebody to be away for 120 days. As it is now, the deputy governor has been confirmed as acting governor of the state.