From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 06.26.2008 (THISDAY Newspapers)
president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have waded into the move by the Adamawa State House of Assembly to impeach the state Governor Murtala Nyako.
PDP National Chairman Vincent Ogbulafor, who led the party leadership to a meeting yesterday with President Yar’Adua at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on the matter, said the impeachment move had been taken care of.
He described the problem between the House and the governor as a family affair.
“It is the party that intervened and we have solved the problem. It is a family affair and it’s been taken care of. We only went to brief the President what we did and the President is happy with the party. The governor and the Speaker are one and the same. Everything is over and we are happy,” he said.
The PDP Chairman described the allegations of the state legislature against the governor as “shallow” and according to him, arose from a mere misunderstanding which is normal in politics.
“The allegation is shallow. I think it is shallow but its just a misunderstanding which is normal in any administration. Politics is not like religion but even in religion they disagree, in church they disagree so there is bound to be disagreement.
“We listened to both parties and where there is need to apportion blame we did and both of them saw where they made mistakes. Nobody is above mistakes”, he said.
But the meeting may have ended in a deadlock.
The body language of the state House of Assembly Speaker James Barka and the moves by Ogbulafor and National Secretary Abubakar Kawu Baraje to sneak Nyako away from the press appeared to suggest all was still not well after the meeting.
Both men, the embattled governor and Barka, emerged from the two-hour meeting wearing long faces.
After the meeting, the Speaker walked away and it took repeated calls by Ogbulafor to have him reluctantly walk back to speak with State House correspondents.
When asked if he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, the unsmiling Barka answered in the negative, saying he would have to brief his colleagues first before making further comments on the issue.
“No. We have had a meeting and the chairman has said it all and I will meet with my members”, he said before walking away.
The meeting was adjourned so the Speaker would brief his colleagues on the decisions reached and thereafter return for another round of consultation to be presided over by Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential Villa but no date was fixed.
Nyako, on his part, kept mute despite repeated questions posed to him by reporters.
He however said he had reached out to the state House of Assembly.
On whether he saw the hand of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar or former governor Boni Haruna in his impeachment move, he replied: “Do you mean physical hand or…” and walked away.
The Adamawa State House of Assembly had on Monday served Nyako an impeachment notice.
The governor was alleged to have committed 16 impeachable offences.
Nyako was returned to the governorship seat last April after a rerun poll.
In the six-page impeachment notice tabled before the House by the Deputy Speaker Aliyu Isa Ahmadu and signed by 20 of the 25 members of the assembly, the governor was accused of gross misconduct in the performance of his official duties and other unconstitutional acts.
In the notice of impeachment, Nyako was accused of obtaining a loan of $50 million or N6 billion with a repayment regime of 34 months at N248 million net per month.
This, according to the impeachment notice, amounts to N8,432,000,000, which has allegedly subjected the state to an unnecessary financial burden.
Nyako is also accused of unilaterally obtaining the loan without the assembly's approval as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to the notice, the lawmakers said: "The interesting part of the loan is that the financier, the consultant and contractor for the projects selected for execution with the money is one and the same."
The assembly identified the company involved as Messrs SNECOU Group of companies Ltd, "a company with a share capital of only N1 million."
The lawmakers said the company did not have the capacity to handle such a transaction involving large sums of public money.
"There is also no evidence that the money was paid into any account which the Adamawa State Government operates. Meanwhile, repayment of the money has already commenced since May 2008 at the rate of N248 million per month," they said in the notice.
Nyako was also accused of obtaining another loan from a second generation bank to the tune of N5 billion with a repayment rate of N457,211,021.49 million per month.
The assembly disclosed that both loans were procured without the authorisation of the House contrary to Section 120 (2) (3) and (4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
The governor was also alleged to have frozen the account of Mayo Belwa Local Government Council in the state.
This, the legislators insisted, took place with little regard for due process.
The legislators also accused the governor of authorising illegal deductions from the joint accounts of local governments thereby starving them of funds which they were to deploy in implementing their projects for the benefit of the people.