Court Quashes Impeachment Of Former Enugu Deputy Governor, Sunday Onyebuchi
FORMER deputy governor of Enugu State, Sunday Onyebuchi was full of smiles yesterday as the Enugu High Court presided over by Justice Reuben Odugu nullified his purported impeachment and ordered the restoration of his rights and benefits from the time of removal from office to the period his tenure elapsed.
Onyebuchi was impeached on August 26, last year, by the immediate past State House of Assembly led by Eugene Odoh following the recommendation of the seven-man Impeachment Panel set up by the State
Chief Judge, Innocent Umezuruike, which investigated allegations of gross misconduct leveled against him by then governor, Sullivan Chime.
His impeachment from office led to the nomination and appointment of the Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, who served as Deputy Governor till the end of the administration in May this year.
But at the same courtroom where the seven-man panel found Onyebuchi guilty 15 months ago, the court yesterday upturned the purported impeachment, declaring that his office as Deputy Governor remained “in tact” till May 28, 2015.
The Court faulted the nomination and appointment of Nwoye as Onyebuchi’s replacement, stressing that it negated the spirit of the constitution, as there was no breach that should have warranted such action.
It therefore set the appointment aside, saying that the position he occupied was never vacant.
Onyebuchi had gone to court to challenge his impeachment from office based on allegations of gross misconduct.
He prayed the court to restore him to office as deputy governor and to order the payment of his entitlements in the event of his tenure in office elapsing before the end of trial.
He had also asked the court to declare as unconstitutional his removal, his replacement by Nwoye as well as whether allegations contained in notice of impeachment dated July 2, 2014 amounted to abuse of office.
Delivering the judgment that lasted over an hour yesterday, Justice Odugu observed that none of the defendants which included the 24 members of the immediate past House of Assembly and Nwoye (whom the court described as the beneficiary of the illegality), neither made a legal representation nor appeared throughout the period of the trial.
Onyebuchi, who was in court with his wife, Nneka, told reporters that he had been vindicated and has forgiven all those who were used to perpetrate the injustice.
“Some of them have come to confess and plead for forgiveness saying that they were used. I have forgiven them, even those who haven’t come to me. The God I serve is God of forgiveness and therefore I hold nothing against them,” Onyebuchi said.