The Owerri High Court on Tuesday nullified the impeachment of the deputy governor of Imo state, Mr. Eze Madumere by the state house of assembly.
Delivering the judgment in suit number HOW/565/2018, instituted by Madumere to challenge his removal from office, the presiding judge, Justice Benjamin Iheaka held that “the appointment of the seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct made by the 9th and 10th defendants (Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly and Imo State House of Assembly), against the plaintiff is invalid, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.”
The judge flayed the chief judge of the state, Paschal Nnamdi and the attorney general of the state, Militus Nlemedim for not adhering to the provisions of section 188(5) of the 1999 constitution as amended in the impeachment of Madumere which took place on July 31, 2018.
The jurist noted with concern that the CJ constituted the seven man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct by Madumere by the state house of assembly outside the seven days lifeline as provided by the constitution.
It (constitution) stipulates that the chief judge must set up a seven-man panel of inquiry within seven days but on the contrary, the chief judge did after nine days, according to the constitution makes the impeachment process invalid, null and void.
He said constituting the seven man panel nine days after the resolution was made was not admissible in law.
The court equally restrained the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Acho Ihim and the State House of Assembly (9th and 10th defendants) in the suit from carrying out any other impeachment proceeding on Madumere until the matter is determined.
Reacting to the judgment a former attorney-general and commissioner for justice in the state, Prof. Francis Dike, commended the court and the judge for being bold and independent saying the judgment “shows independence of the Judiciary.”
“I congratulate the young judge for being bold. The judgment has also shown that the whole saga surrounding the deputy governor’s impeachment almost perverted the course of justice. The people, who accused the deputy governor, became “judges” themselves. The present administration in Imo State should now sit and follow things the right way.
“The House of Assembly has bitten the dust. Recall earlier about a month ago, I did say their victory may become pyrrhic and turn into ashes melting in their mouths. The shame is theirs now as their wings are clipped. They can’t fly with impunity,” he said.
Madumere, in his reaction, said he had handed the matter over to God, as he had been vindicated.
“The judgment is to the greater glory of God,” he added.
Madumere was impeached on July 30, 2018, by 19 out of the 27 lawmakers on allegations of absence without reasons for a period of three months and a failure to perform constitutional duties like attending state executive and state security council meetings.
Others allegations included his alleged failure to attend meetings with the governor and other government functionaries as well as an alleged concealment of felonious acts in the United States.