The embattled Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, Philip Okwaraji, has declared that he was still in-charge of the council, countering the purported impeachment by the councillors.
Okwaraji, who was reportedly impeached earlier yesterday, alongside his vice, Grace Osarono, by the Eleme Legislative Assembly, said that no impeachment notice was served on them.
Speaking later, in the day Okwaraji maintained his position, as the council chairman and challenged the councillors to provide evidence of receipt of the alleged impeachment notice.
He declared: “I have respect for Legislative Assembly. But, I want to say the impeachment is a nullity, because as I stand, my vice and I have not been served any impeachment notice. They (councillors) need to prove where impeachment notice has been served on us.
“I think we don’t need to abuse a process. There are laid down processes. I want to say I have been in the council and I remain the Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government.
“I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be cajoled to go and borrow N100 million and share to councillors. I will not. I was elected to protect the interest of Eleme people. I was elected to ensure there is security in Eleme. I was elected to ensure there is peace in Eleme. And I will do that. And I will work within the policy of the Executive Governor of Rivers State, a performing governor.
“Nobody can intimidate me. The councillors cannot intimidate me and the vice chairman. The interest of Eleme is uppermost in our hearts. We have a passion to the Eleme people. You cannot go and sit in a hotel room and say you have impeached the chairman. The Supreme Court said for you to impeach a chairman, you must sit within the precept of the House of Assembly”, Okwaraji stressed.
He accused the councillors of demanding N10 million each for constituency projects, and denied spending N40 million in plastering a building.
“I am one chairman, who is accountable and transparent. We met a contractor, who was hired by previous administration. And we said we cannot terminate him. And we paid him N30 million. We have a receipt of payment for the secretariat of Eleme Local Government Area”, he argued.
It would be recalled that the councillors accused him of financial impropriety and claimed that they served him and his vice an impeachment notice, to be responded to within seven days, which they (Okwaraji and Osarono) failed to obey.
According to the councillors, following the expiration of the seven days notice, they sat outside the Legislative Chamber due to the destruction of property by thugs and executed the purported impeachment.