*says, I am yet to appear before any panel.
*have not seen the audit report.
From Chuks Collins, Awka
Sept 7, 2011
The Anambra State House of Assembly has passed a resolution on Tuesday, sequel to a letter from the Secretary to the state Government, Chief Paul Odenigbo urging it to do so and to sack the chairman of the state Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC Prof Titus Eze.
Prof Eze told The Guardian in an interview that he has no idea of the plot to remove him, or has received query or the report of the auditor. That he was neither summoned by the state Assembly nor asked for his response to whatever indictment the audit report had against him or his Commission Excerpts:
What is really the problem between your office and the state government?
There was no problem. At least not to my knowledge. They only do not want to hold the Local Government election in the state so that they would continue to control the council funds and their huge monthly allocations. So that is the reason for the confusion to enable them perfect their game plans. If they have interest in conducting the LG election, they would have done so long time ago.
What gave you the impression?
The executive wrote the state assembly, directing the House to remove me, and pronto it was done, even without giving me the benefit of fair hearing. No one informed me or invited me to defend myself. I was not even privy of the audit report uptil now.
Before now, what was the schedule of the LG poll you7 submitted to the government like?
I recommended for the election to come up within Nov-Dec 2011, so as to give the 3 months mandatory notice to all the contestants. I have neither received any funds nor been invited for any discussion on it till date.
How long ago was the proposal submitted?
More than three months ago. My initial proposal was for the election to hold in August 2011; then when it was not working, I updated it with the Nov/Dec version.
What aborted it?
Funds. Lack of funds.
Were the funds you requested so outrageous that it became a big task to meet?
No, I gave a detailed comparative analysis of what it cost other states, including neighbouring states to hold theirs. Some spent well above N1billion, others around N800 million and above. But we at the ANSIEC scaled down ours to the basic necessities, and it came to N600 million.
Do you think that raising the fund was the problem?
It was one thing to raise the fund, and another to have the will to spend it on the purpose. I actually didn’t want to participate in the direct handling and the disbursement of the funds. So I purposed setting up of a committee to supervise and oversee the disbursement, while I handle all the required electoral materials and processes.
So, as it is, who do you blame?
I don’t know. But all memos and letters go to the Governor and no one else. I report direct to him. There is nothing happening here he was not part of.
If that is the case, where then is your commission’s independence?
I don’t know. We try to be as open, transparent and fair to the chief executive as possible
Where do we go from here?
I will consult my friends and family, and then make up my mind on what next to do.
Are also considering seeking legal redress?
It is neither yes nor no; until I am through with my consultations
Since this drama started, have you contracted or consulted Gov Obi?
Do you intend to do so?
May be yes. But that is after giving it a deep thought. After I have slept over it
What is the reaction of your colleagues, the commissioners?
They were all surprised. And no official meeting has been held on it so far. It was so abrupt.
What are the real reasons the Assembly and the Government gave for your removal. What did the audit report say and what did you tell the Assembly or the auditors?
I have not seen the report even till now. No one gave me the report. The Assembly never invited or heard from me. Whatever the audit report said were never shown to me. The government on their own sent auditors to the commission and they spent few days going through the books. At the end they left to put together whatever report they wanted. Perhaps that’s why I was never given a copy. They also wrote to direct the state assembly on what they want them to do. And they went ahead to do just that.
One of the points accused you of spending only N6m out of the N100m given to you, without approval and due process.
It is not true. All laid down due process procedures were diligently followed. Ok, what is wrong with spending only N6m out of N100m. We only spent what was necessary. The money was brought for the LG election, but the date of the election was shifted; so why should I spend it. Even the spent funds were for the restructuring of the old (former) voters’ register. The government appointed a particular consultant for us, sent him and they carried out the task. At the end of the exercise, they presented their bill which was about N6million and the government considered and approved the payment. So we released the funds. Top government officers present during the approval and payment of the consultant were Gov Obi, the SSG-Odenigbo and the Commissioner for Works-Calistus Ilozumba. The balance of the funds we received is still in the commission’s account right now. If you approach the accountant she would show you the details. No kobo is missing
Don’t you then consider the unfolding events unusual. Do you suspect any form of set-up?
Yes. Absolutely yes. I think so, for them to achieve a predetermined mindset which they apparently suspect I would not be willing to acquiesce. This atmosphere of confusion is intentionally created to enable them hang the LG election ad-infinitum; for obvious reasons.
When did the House invite you and what were the issues raised?
No one invited me, or asked me any question. Procedurally the House should have invited me to hear my own side, at least to give it a colorations of fair hearing on whatever issues raised against me before taking any action. But no such step was taken.
Why pushing you out in this way?
So that they can have someone who would be very willing to accede to all their bidding no matter how ridiculous. I see everything as part of politics of Anambra State. But God almighty will surely discover and expose everyone.
Before now, have you had any disagreement with the Governor, or Mr Dubem Obaze?
No! They might have their feelings and thoughts towards me but I don’t have any problem with anyone.
Did anyone approach you on how they want the poll handled?
No. None yet. But some talking has been going on here and there.
Have you been contacted or communicated yet?
No. no one has written or contacted me other than the radio news bulletin where the Assembly said they have removed me. Our records are there for everyone to verify. All purchases including the biros we use in the office were approved and supervised by the executive. All funds were approved and supervised by the executive. All funds were approved, verified accordingly too. We have no bearing in any contract or monetary disbursement here. Therefore accusing me of financial impropriety is an overstatement and an insult.