Impeachment: Panel probing Kogi deputy governor begins hearing

Elder Simon Achuba
Elder Simon Achuba

A panel set up to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Kogi State Deputy Governor, Elder Simon Achuba, has commenced its hearing in Lokoja.

Daily Trust reports that the outcome of the panel’s investigation could climax in the impeachment of the deputy governor or otherwise.

The Chief Judge of Kogi State, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, had inaugurated a seven-member panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the deputy governor, Simon Achuba.

The state House of Assembly had asked the chief judge to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Achuba based on his claims that Governor Yahaya Bello withheld his allowances since 2017.

The seven-man panel, headed by Mr John Baiyeshea (SAN), commenced the hearing yesterday at the state Judiciary complex with calling of witnesses for examination.

Deputy Governor Achuba, who witnessed the panel’s hearing, was however represented by his lead counsel, Mr Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), while the lead counsel for the state government was Mr Anthony Adeniyi.

The Secretary to the Kogi State Government (SSG), Mrs Folashade Ayoade-Arike, was first to enter the witness box to testify before the panel.

The SSG, under cross examination by lead counsel to Achuba, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), among others, alleged that the last time Achuba attended the weekly state executive council meeting was in August 2018.

When asked if there were notices of state executive council meetings and agenda issued to the Deputy Governor, the SSG said the meeting was statutory and therefore needed no notice.

She stated that while it was not under the schedule of the Office of the SSG to pay the salary of the deputy governor, all workers of the state, including the deputy governor and his aides, have however been paid “up-to-date”.

Others that testified included the Acting Director, Treasury, in the Office of the Accountant General, Mr. Elijah Ebinemi, who presented before the panel, evidence of alleged salaries/allowances payment schedules made to banks in favour of the office of the embattled deputy governor.

The certified true copies of said payment schedules to banks were said to cover between 2016 and 2017.

But counsel to Achuba, Jibrin Okutepa, averred that the fact that payment schedules were made to banks as claimed did not automatically translate to actual payments to the office of the deputy governor if there was no cash backing.

Lead counsel to the state government, Anthony Adeniyi, cross examined Saliu Hassan Itopa, cashier, Office of the Deputy Governor, who explained that his duty was to ensure allowances and other monies, including imprests are paid direct into the bank accounts of those concerned once approval is given.

Other witnesses are still lined up and the sitting is expected to continue today.


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