17th February, 2011
The Court Of Appeal in Port Harcourt, yesterday voided his impeachment by the State House of Assembly, ordering his reinstatement.
A handful of his supporters were seen jubilating while the statement from the state government has shown no sign that it would allow the embattled Deputy Governor resume in his duty post.
There were conflicting reactions to the judgement by the media managers of the Bayelsa State government yesterday .
The Bayelsa State government through the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Mr. Preye Wariowe, said the government was waiting for the certified true copies of the Court of Appeal judgment.
He, however, affirmed that the order by the court does not in any way imply the return of Peremobowei Ebebi as Deputy Governor of the state.
In a similar vein, the State Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Hon. Nathan Egba, said the Court of Appeal judgment directed the parties to maintain the status quo and for the lower court to hear Ebebiâ€™s earlier suit.
According to Egba, â€œThe court quashed the impeachment but did not direct the re-instatement of the impeached deputy governor. Consequently, the scenario is not quite clear, a situation that can only be subject to further legal clarification. In the light of the above, Bayelsa State Government hereby calls on the people to remain calm and go about their usual activities as there is no cause for alarm whatsoever.
â€œGovernor Timipre Sylva wishes to re-assure the people of the state that the situation is under control as the government is monitoring the legal process and taking appropriate steps. It is necessary to reiterate that the central mission of the Chief Timipre Sylva administration is to develop the land and people of Bayelsa as well as work towards a united people.Â So government is ready to take all willing parties on board in this great effort.â€
In its ruling, the Court of Appeal presided over by Justice Vantijo Mohammed, set aside the appointment of the incumbent Deputy Governor, Werinipre Seibarugu, the former Speaker of the House of Assembly and the sacking of Ebebi last June over alleged gross misconduct by the assembly.
The impeachment was carried out following the political irreconcilable differences between Governor Sylva and Ebebi over the PDP structure in the state.
Ebebi had, through his counsel, Alex Iziyon, SAN, filed a case at the Appeal Court to contest the manner of his impeachment was carried out, citing illegalities in the judgement of a High Court in Yenagoa that declined jurisdiction on the matter.
Counsel to Ebebi, Mr. Wodu Kemesuode, explained that the pronouncement by the Court of Appeal simply affirmed that the impeached deputy governor should be reinstated.
He said: â€œThe Court of Appeal made pronouncement on three vital areas and declared that the process for the removal of Peremobowei Ebebi was illegal and the appointment of Werinipre Seibarugu illegal. It also asked us to go back to the High Court to be heard on our earlier suit asking that the process for his impeachment was wrong.â€
Meanwhile, the court verdict elicited reactions from a cross-section of the political class in the state with many political parties lauding the judiciary over what they described as the peopleâ€™s verdict, insisting that the appeal had vindicated their position on the matter.
National Youth Leader, Ebikibina Miriki of ACN, said the judgement confirmed the earlier stand of the party that the impeachment of Ebebi was illegal and pre-determined.
As at time of filing the report today, the reinstated Deputy Governor has not resumed.
â€”Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt