From Kogi, Impunity at Its Finest!


Penultimate Friday’s impeachment of Kogi State’s deputy governor, Simon Achuba, was a clear travesty of justice that could not stand all legal, political and moral tests. Olawale Olaleye writes

The political and legal rascality that took place in Kogi State recently, where former deputy governor Simon Achuba was wrongfully and illegally impeached by the state House of Assembly, obviously under the instruction of Governor Yahaya Bello and despite a panel’s report clearing Achuba of misdeeds, was not entirely new to the body polity.
What was new in the incident that happened penultimate Friday was that the same excesses that typified previous administrations considered highhanded by all definitions was allowed by the same administration that promised change in every sphere of the nation’s life.

Curiously, the more things change regardless of who or which party is in power, the more they stay the same. Thus, no matter the explanation or justification advanced in defence of the charade and show of shame in Kogi, it simply means it is the ‘same of same’ – whether it is Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan or Buhari.

Needless to say that Achuba and his principal, Governor Bello, have had issues for sometime and later peaked irreconcilably. What was Achuba’s sin? He once advised the governor to learn to always carry everyone along, a development that did not go down well with the governor’s kitchen team led by his Chief of staff, Edward Onoja.

And subtly, the plot to edge him out of the equation started to gather momentum, first with Achuba’s security attaché withdrawn even as a sitting number two citizen in the state. Then, when sometime last year the governor was out of the country, he would rather hand over the reins of power to his ‘puppet speaker’ than have his spare lead the state in the period.

Not only that, they accused Achuba of frolicking with some PDP stalwarts in the lead up to the 2019 elections, including former Senate President Bukola Saraki to effectively sell their plan to the APC leadership and the presidency.
By this time, they had also suspended all statutory payments for the running of Achuba’s office. So, it was clear a decision had been made and there was no stopping the plan as it then was.

Without alluding to the roles played by the police and the state assembly in the entire charade, not to talk of the support Bello was believed to have received from both the presidency and the APC leadership, there was no doubting the fact impunity had become the oxygen that sustains the All Progressives Congress (APC) at all levels in the country.

Thus, when it was established that all the loose political and security ends had been tightened, the legal end was not a big deal – respect for the rule of law was an aberration – the state legislature swung into action, with a panel set up by the Chief Judge of the state as required by the laws of the land.

But to their shock and contrary to expectations, the panel cleared Achuba and discouraged the assembly from further going ahead – a position that is constitutionally established that the impeachment procedure should end or continue based on the panel’s report.

But because everything had been set except for the legal stamp, which was deemed a shoe-in, they probably did not bother to read the panel’s report, which unfortunately did not find Achuba guilty of the allegations. They went ahead regardless and impeached him as planned.

Days after Achuba’s impeachment, the long preferred man and former Chief of Staff, Onoja was sworn in, in what seemed to have also secured the blessings of the state’s judiciary, without which the swearing-in would have been impossible.
Naturally, the development had enraged everyone, including supporters of the APC and its government except of course the presidency and the APC leadership, which perhaps, had considered what happened as mere politics.

It, however, goes without admitting that what happened in Kogi was impunity at its finest. Although it is also debatable to say it was unfortunate this happened under a government that professed change and a new way of thinking and doing things; that impunity has remained a character trait of the Muhammadu Buhari administration is equally trite and changes nothing, ultimately.

But the good in all of this is that no matter how long it takes, whether or not the president or the APC spoke out against it, this is travesty and it stands no chance in the temple of justice. The other good to this is that at the end of the day, it would have exposed the hypocrisy of the president and his party – a handy development suitable enough for posterity to document.