The Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Sunday Onyebuchi, who is currently facing impeachment threat by the State House of Assembly, has formally responded to the notice served on him, explaining why he is running a poultry farm in his official quarters.
He also denied another allegation that he was disrespectful to the governor, Sullivan Chime, insisting that since he was elected deputy governor in 2011, he had represented the governor at numerous events.
The Assembly had on July 24 served Mr. Onyebuchi a notice of impeachment accusing him of “gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of the office of the Deputy Governor of Enugu State.”
Specifically the lawmakers accused the deputy governor of running a poultry farm contrary to a resolution of the Assembly passed on February 12, 2013 prohibiting the maintenance and operation of commercial livestock and poultry farms within residential neighbourhoods in Enugu metropolis.
He was also accused of habitually refusing, failing or neglecting to carry out the functions of his office as directed by the governor thereby breaching Section 193(1) of the Constitution.
The notice, signed by 22 of the 24 members of the Assembly was posted at the gate of his private residence at 46 Savage Crescent, GRA, Enugu.
While thanking the legislators for giving him the opportunity to respond to the allegation, Mr. Onyebuchi, in a letter dated July 30 to the Assembly, explained that he was never served with any of its resolutions prohibiting maintenance of commercial livestock nor was any such resolution ever brought to his notice by any official of the Enugu State Government.
He explained that upon his assumption of office in 2011, he observed, while inspecting his official quarters that it had on its ground an area designated and fenced as an Agricultural Unit with facilities for among other things, a poultry (farm) with technical support from ENADEP and the Commercial Agriculture Programme of the State Ministry of Agriculture.
The said poultry farm, according to him, was declared in his asset declaration form and inspected by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“It is important to state that the structure for the said poultry farm was built by Dizengorf WA Limited during the regime of late Chief M. I. Okpara,” he added. “The first occupant of the premises was late Chief Nwodo and he operated a poultry farm there. Subsequent occupants of the premises, up to my immediate predecessor in office, operated poultry farms in the premises. Similar structures were built by Chief Okpara in most of what was then known as “Ministers’ Quarters”. Indeed, till date, the Government House, Enugu, also has an Agricultural Unit, larger than the one in my official quarters, where a large poultry farm continues to be maintained. The policy under the Okpara regime was to encourage public office holders to engage in farming especially poultry.”
Mr Onyebuchi stated that no complaint of any environmental or health hazard from the said poultry was brought to his attention between 2008 and November 2013.
He stated that on December 27, 2013 he got two letters, one of which was dated December 24, 2013 on the issue, to which he replied to explain his position on the matter.
He pointed out that the statement, in both letters, that his official residence was covered by a Certificate of Occupancy containing a purpose clause to use the premises for residential purposes only, was untrue.
The deputy governor also debunked the claim that he was disobedient to Mr. Chime.