Eleven years after his impeachment, the presidency has confirmed that former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, did not commit any crime deserving removal from office but that his offence was his refusal to inflate the budget of the state.
Commenting on the incident, senior special assistant to President Muhamadu Buhari on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, in an article released on Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of the Buhari Presidency, listed Obi as one of those who suffered injustice while in office as Governor.
“Governor Obi was equally impeached at 5:00 a.m. by members who did not meet the two-thirds required by the constitution,” Mallam Shehu wrote in the article.
On Obi’s offence, the Presidential Aide said: “His offence was that he refused to inflate the state’s budget. The lawmakers had reportedly met with representatives of the President in Asaba, Delta State and then accompanied to Awka by heavy security provided by the police Mobile Unit.”
Corroborating the report, Chief Stephen Okeke, a community leader in Anambra State, said the statement was true. He went on to name other reasons for Obi’s impeachment thus: “It was not just the request to inflate the budget and accommodate their interests, they also gave as reason, the use of N43.2 million by Mr. Peter Obi to repair the burnt Governor’s House for which 298 million was already appropriated in the budget; the use of N81 million for the reconstruction of the burnt Governor’s Lodge for which N486 million was also appropriated. First, they were speaking in tongues on the need to follow the budget. When Obi pretended he did not have the gift of interpretation of tongues, they told him pointblank that the appropriated money was for sensitive interests.”
Still on the reasons given by the lawmakers to impeach Obi, Okeke said: “Some of the reasons sound incredible. Would you believe that the number three item on the notice of impeachment was that he was saving money for the state without approval for which he ended up saving over N75 billion before he handed over? They also accused him of degrading the office of the Governor for using Peugeot 406 as his official vehicle in his first tenure. They also said, for reasons difficult to fathom, that he was buying furniture locally.”
Okeke said people like him that did not understand the politics behind their stand were utterly confounded until later investigations showed that those items were already shared among House members as their own dividends of democracy.
He regretted that those very close to Obi in real life and in government were part of the impeachment because they felt it would benefit them. He thanked retired Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Alfa Belgore, for standing firm and refusing the imprimatur of the judiciary.
Mr. Obi, whose impeachment took place on November 2, 2006, had pursued his case in court and won, successfully completing his first term as governor on February 9, 2010. He thereafter won re-election for a second four-year tenure, which he also completed successfully.