In this report, MOSES ORJIME, examines the intrigues arising from the moves by councillors to impeach the chairman of Obi local government area of Nasarawa State.
There is uneasy calm among supporters and well-wishers of the embattled chairman of Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, Iyimoga Oyigye following moves to impeach him over allegations of abuse of office by the council area’s legislative arm.
Indeed, for Oyigye who is battling to retain his seat, September 2020 may well be a sad month. It marked the month that he was served an impeachment notice which came barely a few days after he was suspended by the officials of his party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the ward level.
On Monday, September 28, 2020, members of the Obi local government legislative arm-the councilors-, obviously acting in line with their constitutionally guaranteed powers, converged at the hallowed chambers of the council area at the Lafia-Awe road secretariat complex of the LG for the business of the day which later turned out to be a move to impeach Iyimoga.
But thugs stormed the secretariat venue of the lawmakers’ sitting, and disrupted them.
Iyimoga was accused of sponsoring the thugs having sensed that the meeting was designed to end his term as council chairman.
“He sent thugs to invade where we were sitting, our cars were smashed and so we had to run for safety”, the councilor representing Iyimoga’s Obi electoral ward, Matthew Simon popularly known as Adogbo, enthused.
But determined to proceed with their business, the councilors reconvened, deliberated and issued an impeachment notice which, according to findings, was served on the chairman.
The councilors told newsmen that the move was aimed at impeaching the chairman whom they accused of misconduct.
Leader of the Legislative Arm, Luka Isaiah said eight out of 10 councilors in the LG, signed the impeachment notice of the chairman.
He alleged that the chairman embarked on projects involving millions of naira without forwarding the proposals to the Legislative Arm for approval before execution.
He accused the chairman of failing to provide a breakdown of funds the local government accessed as revenue allocation from the state government since he assumed office over two years ago.
The House Leader also alleged that on three different occasions, Iyimoga sent thugs to disrupt the house proceedings and forcefully seized the mace, insisting that “such act is not only barbaric, but also a gross abuse of office”
Among the councillors who endorsed the impeachment of the embattled council chairman, Oyigye, is Hon Matthew Simon, the councillor representing Oyigye’s Obi electoral ward.
Speaking to our correspondent on the phone, Simon said the councillors have a series of complaints against the chairman, all bothering on abuse of office and reckless misuse of powers.
“I am the councillor representing Obi ward, we come from the same ward with Oyigye. We have many complaints of breach of the constitution by the suspended chairman.
“The constitution provides that he has to consult the legislature for any expenditure above N500, 000 but he has observed that constitutional provision in breach and carries on as if nothing is wrong,” he said.
Matthew who is popularly called Adogbo said among the offences of the embattled council chairman is his refusal to present the 2020 budget to the legislative arm for scrutiny and eventual passage in spite of repeated calls on him to do so.
He accused the chairman of mobilising thugs to the venue of the councillors sitting to beat and smash their cars, saying, “We left our cars and fled Obi to Lafia, the state capital which is 32 kilometers away.
Prior to the impeachment which is largely seen as dealing a fatal blow to the ex-council chairman’s political fortunes, the APC executive at Obi electoral ward in the LG had slammed Iyimoga an indefinite suspension.
In a statement signed by the duo of the ward chairman and the assistant secretary, copy of which was made available to our correspondent, the Exco accused the LG boss of inciting party members against each other and ‘factionalising the party’.
In the two page statement, the Exco accused the suspended chairman of acting in ways that have brought the party into disrepute even as they directed him to appear before a disciplinary committee.
Iyimoga who hails from Obi electoral ward and by the constitution of the party derives his membership from the ward, was elected executive chairman of the council area on the platform of APC during the last council elections in the state.
He was accused of supporting the candidate of an opposition party during the 2019 general election, an accusation the suspended chairman through his close aides, vehemently denied.
However, a few hours after the suspension, it was gathered that some influential elders and party stakeholders interceded on the embattled chairman’s behalf by pleading with the aggrieved party officials to rescind their decision.
It was while the officials were said to be considering the plea that the councillors announced plans for his impeachment, a move seen as synonymous with nailing the council chairman’s political coffin.
As should be expected, the impeachment move has continued to create panic and confusion among the embattled chairman’s supporters with some of them claiming it was aimed at stopping him from seeking re-election.
“This is nothing but an orchestrated plan to stop him for seeking another term as the council chairman. We are hopeful that it won’t see the light of the day”, a die-hard supporter of the embattled chairman who prefers anonymity, said.
But analysts insist that Iyimoga’s reign is the worst ever in the history of the council area with nothing to show.
“This is one chairman who should have been impeached long before now because aside from his serial breach of both the party and the country’s constitution which he swore to adhere to, there is absolutely nothing to show for his years as chairman.
“I am saddened by the fact that a chairman on the platform of my party, APC, in spite of our progressive ideals, has turned out to be everything but progressive. There has to be an end to all this nonsense”, a youth leader who gave his name simply as Egyekobi, noted.
Barring intervention from appropriate quarters, Oyigye will go down in history as the first council chairman to be removed through impeachment in Nasarawa State, since the creation of the state, 24 years ago.
As of the time of this report, the embattled chairman was said to have been running from the proverbial pillar to post, begging influential community, political and religious leaders to intercede on his behalf, all in a frantic effort to quash the planned impeachment.
A competent source told our correspondent that the state ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs has invited both the councillors and the embattled chairman for ‘reconciliatory meeting’.
Whether he will escape the councillors’ hammer or not, only time will tell.