Onyebuchi was impeached in August 2014 in the infamous ‘chicken impeachment’ saga, after he was accused of gross misconduct by members of the state house of assembly.
A seven-member investigative panel, set up by the state Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezuluike, had found Onyebuchi guilty of the charges leveled against him by the lawmakers.
Interestingly, one of the ‘gross misconducts’ was an allegation that the then deputy governor ran a poultry within his official residence in the government house.
A witness, who gave evidence against Onyebuchi during a hearing conducted by the lawmakers, had testified that the ‘stench’ from the said poultry was an embarrassment to the Enugu State Government.
The witness, a physician, listed numerous hazards the stench posed to the health of residents and visitors in the administrative complex.
However, it was widely believed that Onyebuchi’s impeachment was a fallout of differences between him and former governor, Sullivan Chime.
Onyebuchi was also accused of failing to represent Chime at official engagements.
Onyebuchi had gone to court to challenge his impeachment.
Ruling on the matter, the Enugu High Court, presided over by Justice R. O. Odugu, held that the impeachment did not comply with the relevant laws that guide such an exercise.
Odugu, who frowned at the manner the lawmakers conducted themselves during the saga, also set aside the inauguration of Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye as Onyebuchi’s replacement.
Nwoye served as the deputy governor from August 2014 to May 29, 2015.
Odugu granted all the reliefs sought by Onyebuchi, noting that both the legislators and Nwoye, whom the court described as the ‘beneficiary of the illegality’, did not contest the case.
The judge held that the impeachment did not comply with section 188 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
Specifically, he declared that the running of a poultry did not in any way constitute gross misconduct, as envisaged by the constitution.
“The defendants wrongfully exercised their powers by removing the deputy governor for maintaining a poultry which does not contravene section 188 of the constitution,” he said.
The judge further held that Onyebuchi’s alleged refusal to represent Chime was not a gross misconduct.
“Only a grave violation or breach of the constitution that can be regarded as a gross misconduct,” he held. (Punch)