Posted by By Vincent Ujumadu on
THE commission of inquiry set up by the Abia State government has indicted 23 serving and former public officers, including President Olusegun Obasanjo; People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua; his running mate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; National Secretary of the party, Chief Ojo Maduekwe; the party’s governorship candidate for Abia State, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; and Obasanjo’s daughter, Iyabo.
UMUAHIA— THE commission of inquiry set up by the Abia State government has indicted 23 serving and former public officers, including President Olusegun Obasanjo; People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua; his running mate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan; National Secretary of the party, Chief Ojo Maduekwe; the party’s governorship candidate for Abia State, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; and Obasanjo’s daughter, Iyabo. They were alleged to have benefitted from unwholesome contract deal in the state.
Others in the list are the former deputy governor of the state, Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe, who is the PDP senatorial candidate for Abia South; Mr. Ernest Mba Ajah of the House of Representatives; Mao Ohuabunwa who is the PDP senatorial candidate for Abia North; and Chinwe Nwanganga who is the PDP governorship running mate, a former local government chairman and former chairman of Enyimba Football Club.
Also indicted were Patrick Onwuka, Allen Nwachukwu, Friday Onukwue, Nkiru Onyejeocha, Felix Ebere, Eze Nwanganga, Chijioke Nwakodo, Henry Elogu and Damian Ozurumba who were all local government chairmen at different times in the life of the present administration.
The rest are Mrs. Victoria Akanwa, Chief C.S.L. Nwosu, both former commissioners; defeated PDP governorship aspirant, Chief Iheanacho Orji; and former chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Tony Ukasoanya. A white paper has already been issued on the matter while the gazette was said to be almost ready.
Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Chief Anthony Agbazuere, told reporters in Umuahia at the end of the weekly report of the State Executive Council that by the provisions of the law, the affected persons were no longer qualified to hold public offices or even stand for election.
He said Section 137 (1) of the constitution states that an individual will not be allowed to contest election if "he has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or an Administrative Panel of Inquiry or a Tribunal set up under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, a Tribunals of Inquiry Law or any other law by the Federal or State Government which indictment has been accepted by the Federal or State Government, respectively."
He said letters were written to the affected persons inviting them to appear before the panel, explaining that over 38 persons invited, only seven personally appeared while one sent a lawyer to appear for him.
Agbazuere had last week announced the setting up of the five-member Commission of Inquiry which had the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Chief Donatus Okorie as chairman, with Chief Ike Oye as Secretary and Henry Nwokemgbede, Charles Esonu and Ogba Ndukwe as members.
The committee’s terms of reference were to look into the activities of the past and present functionaries of the state from 1999 to 2007; invite any person it deemed necessary to facilitate the assignment in the interest of the public.
State, adding that if, in the course of investigation, one was linked or found to be
part of a transaction overtly or covertly and by so doing played some roles to subvert due process or to encourage fraud, then the commission had the power to indict.
According to him, the setting up of the commission was in tandem with all known laws, particularly the Commission of Inquiry Law of Eastern Nigeria 1958 applicable to Abia State .
Reacting to the development, the state branch of the PDP described the setting up of the commission of inquiry at this time as an afterthought.
Senator Onyeka Okoroafor who is the director of the governorship campaign in the state said there was something sinister about the exercise, saying it showed that the people running the state administration were not honest.
"They want to make a joke of everything. There had to be an indictment that would necessitate the setting up of the commission. This government is on its way out and it is not right to witch-hunt people. It was even possible that the white paper had been issued before the commission was even set up," he said.
He urged the people of the state to ignore it and concentrate on the forthcoming elections.