Gov Chime’s Prolonged Absence Stirs Confusion, Constitutional Debate In Enugu

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The Enugu Development Association (EDA) will, after the New Year celebration, hold a meeting with the state’s acting governor Sunday Onyebuchi over the whereabouts of Governor Sullivan Chime.

President of the EDA, Barrister Enechi Onyia, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said in a telephone interview in Enugu yesterday that nobody had informed the association about the whereabouts of Governor Chime since he left the shores of the country in September 2012.

Some newspapers had reported that Chime was undergoing medical treatment abroad, with some even reporting that he had passed on, a claim the state government refuted.

But Barrister Onyia said that, as elders of the state, it would be ‘irresponsible’ on their part to respond to those reports without hearing from the acting governor.

“Chime is our son, and if he is sick, and taken out of the country for medical treatment, we ought to be told as elders of the state,” said Onyia.

According to him, the IDA will take a position on calls from several quarters to declare Governor Chime incapable of performing his constitutional functions after meeting with the acting governor.

But Emeka Njoku, an Enugu-based legal practitioner, dismissed calls on the state executive council to declare the absent governor incapable of performing his functions as provided for in section 189(1)of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), as baseless, adding that the presence of an acting governor made such calls untenable.

He said that such calls could be meaningful if after the expiration of six months the governor had not returned to his seat.

Nevertheless, a former member of the Enugu State Assembly, Barrister Nwabueze Ugwu, said in a telephone interview that any citizen of the state could go to court to compel the state executive council to declare the governor incapable of performing his functions, since he had been away from office for more than three months.

He also said the state legislature could commence impeachment processes against the governor on the basis of his long absence from office.

Officials of the Enugu State government had in the last three months claimed that Governor Chime was enjoying his accumulated leave, and would return soon to resume duties.

The chairman of the House of Assembly Committee on Information, Hon. Ukuta John Kelvin, refused to pick his telephone when called several times to get the position of the legislature on the governor’s long absence from duty, and insinuations about his falling health.

Source: Leadership

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