Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State may be facing fresh crisis in his second tenure over the status of the deputy governor of the state. This is not unconnected with the judgment of a State High Court in Lokoja on Thursday which declared the impeachment of former Deputy Governor Simon Achuba by the Kogi State House of Assembly null and void.
The presiding judge, Justice John Olorunfemi, delivering the judgment, insisted that Achuba’s removal from office by the Assembly is a violation of the constitution and the subsequent nomination of Edward Onoja as the deputy governor, did not follow due process.
Justice Olorunfemi declared the action of the Kogi State House of Assembly a constitutional coup hatched and executed in a democracy. He maintained that the action is contrary to Section 188 subsection 8, a section that stopped the Assembly from further action having discovered that the former deputy governor was not found wanting by the panel.
The Judge said the onus to produce the remaining volumes of the report purported to have indicted the former deputy governor rest with the defendants which they failed to do.
Justice Olorunfemi acknowledged that the 29th defendants also did not file a counter-notice, describing the process of removing the former deputy governor as not following due process.
Achuba challenged his impeachment by the Kogi State Assembly and sought for relief of the court to declare his impeachment as illegal and to be reinstated as the rightful deputy governor of the state.
Counsel to the impeached deputy governor, Jibrin Okutachi (SAN), in a 13-page counter-affidavit, submitted that the court should discountenance the application by the Clerk, describing it as a breach of court order 11, rule 2, subsection 4, and section 115 subsection 4 of the evidence act.
Achuba was impeached in October 2019 by members of the Kogi State House of Assembly.
His impeachment followed the submission of a report of the committee set up by the State Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajana, to investigate an allegation of gross misconduct against the former deputy governor. The panel did not indict the former deputy governor of any misconduct in its investigation and findings which would have ended the impeachment but the lawmakers proceeded to manufacture their own claim to ensure the deputy governor was impeached and removed from office before the November governorship election in Kogi State.