Lawyer Justifies Chime’s Absence from Enugu

21 Nov 2012

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Governor, Sullivan Chime

Christopher Isiguzo
in  Enugu
An Enugu-based constitutional lawyer, Prof. Race Achara, tuesday  took a swipe at those calling for the declaration of the state Governor, Sullivan Chime, ‘incapacitated’, as a result of his continuous absence from office, saying the governor had not in any way breached the constitution.

Achara said those likening the absence of Chime with that of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan lacked knowledge of the stipulations of the constitution, adding that the situations were not similar.

He stated that  Section 190 of the 2010 amendment to the 1999 Constitution which was ratified in January last year  allows  any governor  who would be absent in his state for more than 21 days to transmit a letter to his state House of Assembly conferring powers in acting capacity to the Deputy Governor  while he was away.

He said: “I believe that is exactly what the Enugu Governor did when he conferred powers to his deputy in acting capacity and transmitted the development in a letter to the state House of Assembly.

“The House can only make resolutions conferring executive powers to the Deputy Governor to act when a governor is away if he (governor) fails to do so and has stayed away for 21 days.

“The fact that there is an acting governor suggests that the right things were done.  So there is no real issue to talk about. People are making comments without consulting relevant sections of the constitution.

“I also want to believe that government’s activities are going on in full gear. It will have been a different thing if governance has collapsed in the state. So I don’t find any reason why people should be asking the state Assembly to declare him incapacitated.”
Achara explained that there was no comparison between the situation that made the National Assembly confer powers to President Jonathan when late Yar’Adua took ill, stressing that the lawmakers acted because “necessary constitutional procedures were not followed to back up his absence.”

Chime, who began his annual leave on September 19, had been away since then. His long stay also raised fears over his health condition, especially the fact that he had never travelled that long since he assumed office as governor in 2007.

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