Despite being aware of a lawsuit served it to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit, the rubber stamp Delta State House of Assembly on Tuesday screened and confirmed Retired Navy Commander, Samuel Idah Azubuike as Director General of the Delta State Traffic. Management Agency (DETSMA).
This is coming despite the public outrage and criticism trailing the action of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who hurriedly submitted the name of the appointee to the state assembly after a lawsuit was instituted over the resumption of the said Idah to his new post without the state assembly screening and confirmation of his appointment.
BIGPEN Online had reported that the governor was trying to tighten up the loopholes in the purported appointment of the said Idah following the blunder on the part of the state government.
Investigation revealed that Idah, was unceremoniously asked to resume as new Director General of traffic agency in contravention of the law establishing the traffic agency before the governor sent his name to the state assembly for screening and confirmation.
The tenure of the former director general of the agency, Olorogun Stephen Dieseruvwe ought to expire in June 2020 in accordance with the law establishing the traffic agency.
But Idah reportedly assumed the duties of the DG and had from September 23, 2019 attending to files, signing memo and others as director general of the establishment.
BIGPEN Online was yet to establish how Idah became a DG even when he was yet to be screened and confirmed by the state assembly but documents seen shows he had long assumed the role probably after an appointment which was kept secret for reason yet to be fathom.
It was learnt that while the human rights lawyer who took the matter to court before the Ughelli High Court Judicial Division with suit No. UHC/171/019, was battling for an order to nullify the action of the state government on 28th day of November, Govenror Okowa quickly forwarded the name of Idah to the assembly through a letter dated November 28, 2019.
To show that the governor was out to overreach the litigants, the governor asked the assembly to hurriedly consider the letter, screen and confirm the nominee to enable him effects his appointment in accordance with section 12 sub Section 1 of the Delta State Traffic Management Authority (Establishment Law 2013).
After a motion had been moved for the nominee to be considered for screening and confirmation, the assembly speaker, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori thereafter directed the nominee to submit thirty five copies of his curriculum vitae to the office of the Clerk on or before December 2, 2019 and appear for screening on Tuesday December 3, 2019.
This was after Ogedegbe had urged the court to enter judgement as all the parties have been served in the matter except Idah whom the court bailiff claimed had evaded service.
In moving his application, Ogedegbe told the court that the Governor as Chief Executive Officer of the State is empowered by law to protect the state laws from abuse and not to stand as the chief abuser.
He said that Governor Okowa in a desperate attempt to destroy the subject matter of litigation has sent the name of the said Cdr Azubuike Idah (rtd) to the House of Assembly for confirmation and same was read on the floor of the House of Assembly, 28th November 2019 with the sole aim of frustrating the subject matter of litigation.
Ogedegbe, said in his bid for the right thing to be done, he wrote a letter dated November 28, to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, titled “In the matter of appointment of Director General of the Delta State Traffic Management Authority by the Executive Governor of Delta State and request for confirmation of Cdr. Azubuike s. Idah (rtd) while the appointment of the pioneer Director General and a law suit is subsisting”.
But ignoring the said letter, the Speaker on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 screened and confirmed Retired Navy Commander Samuel Idah Azubuike as Director General of the Delta State Traffic. Management Agency (DETSMA).
Obovrevwori, who presided over plenary said after the confirmation, that the assembly did no wrong, maintaining that their actions was within the ambit of the law
Hear him: “My dear colleagues thank you for carrying out yet one of our cardinal duties as a Legislature. There is no gain saying the fact that we operate a constitutional democracy where the rule of law is supreme. Our action this morning is within the ambit of the law”.
“Section 208 subsection (2) paragraph (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended gives the Governor the power to appoint and remove any person or Chief Executives in any government departments in the state.
“Also, Section 12 subsection (1) and Section 10 subsection (3) of the Delta State Traffic Management Authority Law, 2013 invest the Governor with the power to appoint the Director General of the Delta State Traffic Management Authority, subject to the confirmation of the House and the power to remove the Director-General respectively”, he added.
But reacting, Ogedegbe said that he is not surprise over the confirmation because, according to him the assembly doesn’t have the impetus to challenge the governor’s action.
He said that he took the matter to court for three main reasons which were yet to be determined by the court but the governor is trying to ambush the judgment.
Ogedegbe expressed optimism that the court would still go ahead to decide the legality of what the governor has done.
“We were in court for three reasons as follow; there is a substantive DG who was yet to be relieved of his appointment.
“The appointment was without the confirmation of the House of Assembly.
“The appointed DG lacks the 10 years cognate experience in traffic management.
“While the matter was in court the governor hurriedly sent the name to the house of Assembly for confirmation.
“The issue is can he validly send the name while the matter was in court will that not amount to destroying the subject matter of litigation?
“What becomes of the pioneer DG whose appointment is statutorily guaranteed for a four year term?
“Does this appointment settle the issue of the 10 years cognate experience in traffic management?
“I know the assembly will not have the impetus to turn down the request from a man who uses the green pen that is capable of changing destiny. But my addiction to the law gives me the believe only the court can restore matters to status quo”, Ogedegbe enthused.