The Panel started sitting at about 9:05a.m. The House of Assembly was represented by the Clerk of the House.
Chief Chris Aghanwa, lead counsel for the Deputy Governor, told the Panel they had problems serving the subpoena issued by the Panel summoning Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, Mr. B.S Ude, Mr. Victor Atuonwu, Mr. Nicholas Agbo, Insp. Joseph Obiekwe, Sgt. Sunday Agbabi, Sgt Tunde Ovbude and Barr Chukwudi Achife because unfortunately the Secretary of the Panel, Mr. Vin Aneke refused to serve the subpoena on the affected persons. He submitted that it will be an aberration where a litigant is expected to serve court process a fortiori a subpoena. He said it does not accord with our legal jurisprudence and applied that the Panel orders the appropriate officer of the Panel to serve the subpoena on the affected persons.
Aghanwa further said that for the time being they would open their case with witnesses that are in court pending when those who are on subpoena are served as witness on subpoena are about four-fifth of the number of the witnesses they are going to call.
Mr. Nduka Ikeyi opposed the application saying that counsel for the Deputy Governor knows how to effect service of process and he has not even tried to serve the subpoena.
The Panel ruled and said that counsel to the Deputy Governor knows how to serve the subpoena maintaining that counsel wanted to delay the proceedings.
Aghanwa opened the case of the Deputy Governor to show they don’t intend to delay the proceedings of the Panel by calling their first witness.
The witness told the Panel that she knows the Deputy Governor and also knows his official residence and said that she lived in the Deputy Governor’s lodge between 2008 to 2010. She told the Panel that the Deputy Governor started living in his official residence in 2008. She said that towards the end of 2008 they started a poultry at the residence of the Deputy Governor. There was a poultry attendant. She was the person in charge of cleaning the poultry every morning. She feeds the birds and we had then a veterinary doctor who was in charge of vaccination. The normal routine then was every morning the poultry attendant Chinwe Ezugwu will clean the poultry and feed the birds. Then the veterinary doctor comes at interval to give vaccination and drugs as the case may be. She stated that at the time she entered to reside at the Deputy Governor’s Lodge there was already a poultry structure in existence. She also said she has a 1st Degree in Crops Science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and a masters Degree in Business Administration (Management) UNEC and that she was a marketer for the purposes of the poultry section.
Two witnesses Timothy Ngba- Ekon and Chika Nwoko also testified and told the Panel that they worked at the Deputy Governor’s Lodge as poultry attendants. Their work was to sanitize the poultry. They cleaned the poultry two times daily and that they never suffered any illness as a result of the presence of the poultry farm.
They were on duty on 27 January 2014,when people who identified themselves as staff from the Ministry of the Enugu Capital Territory came with buses and trucks into the Deputy Governor’s Lodge and took away the birds and the eggs and the other accessories in the poultry. When they were doing this the Deputy Governor did not hold anybody or prevent any body from doing what they were doing. They told they Panel that the number of birds carried by ECTDA was about 3,000 birds.
The cook to the Deputy Governor Chinyere Ogbuke (Mrs) testified and told the Panel that she and her children live at the Boys Quarters in the Deputy Governor’s Lodge. She said she has never perceived any odour emanating from the poultry house because it was always cleaned by poultry attendants
The security man at the Deputy Governor’s house testified and told the Panel that he was never given any manifest on the night of July 5th 2014 by Barrister Emeka Asogwa, the Chief of Protocol. He stated that Emeka Asogwa, visited the house of the Deputy Governor on the night of 5th July 2014 and spoke with the Deputy Governoron the phone before he was allowed to enter the premises.
Samuel Odo, the driver to the Deputy Gover testified and told the Panel that he drove the Deputy Governor to Onitsha for the flag off of the second Niger Bridge on 13th March 2014 and that they arrived the venue at about 10:00a.m .
When the Panel resumed after lunch, one of the counsel appearing for the Deputy Governor, Mr. Peter Eze, informed the Panel that at about1pm three security personnel attached to the Deputy Governor namely Insp. Joseph Obiekwe, Sgt. Sunday Agbabi and Sgt Tunde Ovbude were served the subpoena signed by the Panel. He said that these persons said that the required permission from CSP Ogarebe, the Chief Security Officer to the Governor, before they could testify.
The security served with the subpoena refused to give evidence because their CSO refused to permit them to do so. Eze refers the Panel to Rule 3(3)(g) and insists that the process of this Panel should not be treated lightly. He further refers the Panel to Rule 3(1), rule 3(3)(g) and says that the Panel has power to compel persons before it to testify. He submitted that the Panel ought not to overlook a flagrant disregard of its summons and directive by CSP. Ogarebe that a police officer should not testify is an insult to the Panel but leaves it to the Panel to handle the situation.
The Panel in its ruling held that the issue before the Panel is whether the Panel has power to compel a witness to appear or compel the person that appears to say something. It held that the Rule does not empower the Panel to do so and the Panel cannot compel a witness before it to say anything..
Mr. Eze then applied that the matter be adjourned to tomorrow so that the other persons who had been served with subpoena today, namely, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo, Mr. Victor Atuonwu, Mr. B. S. Ede, would have the opportunity to answer to the subpoena and if they did not answer, the Deputy Governor would then give evidence. Also says that the Deputy Governor has asked him to apply that at least for his own evidence, that the press be permitted to witness his evidence so that the world can be informed of what he has to say and the questions he has to answer.
Mr. Ikeyi opposed the application for press to cover the evidence of the Deputy Governor on the ground that the Deputy Governor has made written response to the allegations and that it was published in the paper and that the only thing to be done here is to add flesh to it and said that when the Panel permitted the press, the press abused the privilege.
Mr. Eze replies and said that the response to the allegations published in the paper did not include the questions the Deputy Governor will be asked in the proceedings of this Panel.
The Panel reluctantly granted Mr. Eze’s application for adjournment but refused to allow the presence of the press in the proceedings of the Panel. The proceedings continue on 13 August 2014.