Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) has said that the former President Olusegun Obasanjo blatantly violated the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when he masterminded a coup de tat against some governors who were not on the same page with him.
On pages 442 and 443 of his autobiography titled ‘All Will Be Well’, Sagay said Obasanjo violated the provision of Section 188 of the Constitution which outlined the processes involved in the removal of a governor.
Rather than abide by this process, Obasanjo removed sitting governors by brute force using agents of government such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Services (DSS).
He listed the governors who were illegally removed by Obasanjo as Ayo Fayose, former Ekiti state governor; Joshua Dariye, former Plateau State Governor; Rasheed Ladoja, ex- Oyo state governor and the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Bayelsa state governor.
According to Sagay “Attorney-General of Bayelsa State v. Attorney General of the Federation was a case in which I was briefed by the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Governor of Bayelsa state, to sue the Federal Government of President Obasanjo for a declaration that his removal as Governor of Bayelsa State was illegal, null and void”.
“The provisions for impeachment and removal of governors is contained in Section 188 of the Constitution. It is a complex and meticulous 10-stage process. However, under Obasanjo’s presidency, governors were removed by brute force using particularly the EFCC and DSS”.
“Perhaps the most blatant display of naked violation of the Constitution, by Obasanjo, was his removal or attempted removal of state governors which Professor Nwabueze describes as coups d’etat! The method used by Obasanjo was simple and brutal”.
“The EFCC moves into the state of the targeted governor in full force. It arrests all the state legislators and takes them away for detention in Lagos or Abuja. Whilst in detention, they are offered incentives to sign already prepared notices of impeachment of the victim governor”.
“Once sufficient signatures are obtained, the legislators are ferried under armed guard back into their State Capital and taken straight to the House of Assembly, already secured by heavily armed police or military personnel”.
“Once inside the Chambers of the House, they follow a tightly prepared script, involving a compliant Chief Judge who pursuant to a resolution of the captured legislators, appoints a pre-selected panel of partymen with the single mandate of finding the governor guilty of misconduct”.
“Without giving the governor any hearing, the panel finds him guilty as charged, and the hostage legislators are rushed in again to accept the report. In five minutes, it’s all over. The governor is removed and by a strange coincidence, the EFCC is there on standby to arrest the ex-governor and take him away to detention”.
“This is exactly what happened in Bayelsa, and in Plateau State, except that Dariye slipped away quietly whilst the EFCC was playing its power games to remove him. In Anambra state, Obasanjo actually used an Assistant Inspector-General of Police to arrest the Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige and compelled him under duress to sign a letter of resignation”.
“In Oyo state, the strongman of Ibadan politics (now late), Lamidi Adedibu, was the one used in the purported removal of the governor in a beer parlour. The removal of Governor Fayose of Ekiti followed the same script, except that the ambitions of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly and that of the Deputy Governor, to be the Acting Governor , clashed and resulted in a distortion involving equally compromised members of the Judiciary”.
“As stated above, not a single provision of Section 188 was observed. Obasanjo executed a coup against the governors he wanted to remove. Period!”.