THE opposition All Progressives Congress has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of masterminding the removal of ex-Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State.
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, called a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, where he accused the President of clamping down on opposition in his desire for re-election in 2015.
Odigie-Oyegun said, “Having bastardised the army, the police, the courts, aviation and the electoral commission, he has now moved to the next level: impeachment. Every impeachment or threat of it in recent times has the imprint of President Jonathan.
“As we speak, the Governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, has been impeached at the instance of the President and his party; they have moved to Nasarawa, their next stop, while Rivers, Edo and Borno, all APC states, are not being spared the destabilisation that precedes their new-found weapon.
“What was Nyako impeached for? Offences he allegedly committed five years ago. Those offences were not impeachable when he was in the Peoples Democratic Party. But the moment he defected to the APC, they became impeachable.”
But the Presidency, in its reaction, said the APC allegation lacked substance.
It said the opposition party owed the President and Adamawa lawmakers an apology for making unsubstantiated claims.
The APC chairman said the entire process that led to the impeachment of Nyako was fraught with “irregularities, bias, judicial contradictions and in violation of every procedural and constitutional provision” and that it was the worst manifestation of impunity.
“We intend to mount an immediate and rigorous challenge to this gross injustice to the party and people of Adamawa State,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
The APC also said that the Nasarawa State governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura, was being threatened with impeachment over allegations of extra-budgetary expenditure, saying Jonathan had serially committed the same offence.
It said, “In fact, only on the 10th of July 2014, the Senate passed a resolution asking President Goodluck Jonathan to prepare and submit to the National Assembly supplementary budget to cover the expenditure in the sum of N90.693 bn (US$585 bn) for petrol subsidy 2012 and the sum of N685.910 bn (US$4.430 bn) for Kerosene (DPK) subsidy expended without appropriation by the National Assembly in 2012 and 2013.
“Now, who is guiltier of gross misconduct than a President who is frittering away our commonwealth to induce perfidious legislators to impeach their state governors? Who is guiltier of gross misconduct than a President who deploys troops to harass, intimidate and arrest the opposition during an election? Who deserves to be impeached for gross misconduct more than a President who uses national institutions against the opposition and shuts airports arbitrarily?”
Odigie-Oyegun, at the press briefing, was flanked by other party leaders, including a former National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Audu Ogbeh; and a former Minister of the FCT, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
He said Jonathan’s desperation knew no bounds, and that the President was willing to set a record of presiding over the greatest number of impeachments under his tenure.
The APC chairman also said, “He (Jonathan) is subverting hitherto respected national institutions. The army has been so compromised that it can no longer be trusted by anyone to be neutral. The army has been so abused that it now carries out police duties.
“Soldiers were deployed to guard the residence of the Chief Judge of Adamawa while the impeachment proceedings were on. Soldiers were deployed to guard each member of the impeachment panel. Soldiers were also deployed to guard the venue where the panel sat.
“In Ekiti, soldiers were deployed to hunt down the opposition and prevent them from moving around freely, in contravention of the nation’s constitution. In Osun, soldiers are again to be deployed to shut down the state and go after the opposition.”
The party said the President had been flouting a subsisting 2005 Court of Appeal judgment which declared unconstitutional the use of the military for election duties.
The President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said people of Odigie-Oyegun’s stature holding sensitive positions must make only allegations that they could prove.
He explained that the process of removing a sitting governor was clearly stipulated in the nation’s Constitution and only the state House of Assembly was given powers to embark on such exercise.
He said, “Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, being a mature man and a politician of many years, ought to know that there is something in the laws of Nigeria called defamation of character.
“He also ought to know that in law, whoever alleges must provide proof. He should not assume that because he is playing politics, that that gives him the right to make irresponsible allegations.
“People of his stature occupying such a sensitive position must make only allegations that they can prove. Just speaking politically and accusing the President of something untrue does not protect him in the eyes of the law. What he is saying is absolutely untrue.
“I think that members of the House of Assembly in Adamawa State should feel grossly insulted by the APC chairman, who is more or less making them look like persons who have no mind of their own.
“Our belief is that those lawmakers are not children that can be pushed around by anybody.
“What needs to be stressed is the fact that President Jonathan has no hand in anybody’s impeachment.”
Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the impeached Nyako remained unknown on Wednesday even as security was beefed up in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, a day after the former governor was removed.
Soldiers and armed riot policemen were deployed in strategic locations in the state, especially in Jimeta-Yola.
It was learnt that the heavy security presence was to prevent a breakdown of law and order following the removal of the governor, a decision which had polarised the state.
A police Armoured Personnel Carrier was stationed at the popular Police Roundabout with several policemen on guard.
Armed soldiers were also seen patrolling the frontage of the Government House as well as the private residence of the former governor.
The Adamawa State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Othman Abubakar, said there was nothing unusual about the increased level of security in the state.
“We are not anticipating any breach of the peace, people should not panic. The policemen are performing their normal functions,” Abubakar said.