The Supreme Court of Nigeria on Friday sacked Herman Hembe from the House of Representatives.
The Court said Mr. Hembe, who represents Vandikwa/Konshisha constituency of Benue State was not the valid candidate of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The court also ordered that Mr. Hembe be replaced with Dorathy Mato, who was declared the right winner of the APC primaries.
Mr. Hembe was also ordered to refund to the National Assembly within 90 days all monies he has so far collected as salaries and allowances or emoluments.
He was also ordered to pay a cost of N200,000 to Mrs. Mato.
Before his sack, however, Mr. Hembe has been enmeshed in various controversies in the Nigerian parliament.
ROW WITH OTEH
He first came to prominence when as the chairman of the House committee on capital market, he chaired the committee’s public hearing investigating the crash of the Nigerian capital market.
On the second day of the hearing, Mr. Hembe accused the Director General of Securities and Exchange Committee, SEC, at the time, Arunma Oteh, of expending N30 million on hotel bills in eight months following her appointment in January 2010.
He also accused her of spending N850,000 on food in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. He said Ms. Oteh, who currently serves as a Vice President of the World Bank, hired two staff of Access Bank, Charles Ugheli and Titi Olubiyi, to work as advisers to SEC, while they retained their position with the bank.
Ms. Oteh instantly fired back saying “Hembe lacks credibility. For instance, he collected estacode and other travel allowances from the Securities and Exchange Commission to travel to the Dominican Republic on a capacity enhancement conference for capital market regulators. He did not go neither did he return the money collected.”
She added that he also “asked the commission to contribute N39 million towards the ongoing charade of a public hearing and demanded another N5 million cash on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. He made both demands by proxy. So, I doubt it if I can have fair hearing from this committee and this fact has been more than demonstrated with the way you are handling this important issue.”
ENCOUNTER WITH ANYIM
In February this year, the House of Representatives mandated its committee on Federal Capital Territory to investigate the Centenary City project in Abuja.
On the first day of the hearing, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Pius Anyim, accused Mr. Hembe, who was the chairman of the committee, of pursuing a personal agenda.
When it was time for Mr. Anyim to speak, he said “Mr. Chairman, I want to put it to you that you have personal motives, you have told everyone who cared to listen that when the former Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms. Arunma Oteh accused you of demanding bribe, you have pushed for her sack and I refused to sack her as the SGF, so this is an opportunity to get back at me.
“You have been threatening to conduct this public hearing for over one year now, we only discovered your game plan for all the postponement when you started sending messages to the Managing Director to come and see you privately, I want you to know that nobody will come and see you privately”.
SPAT WITH JIBRIN
Mr. Hembe also engaged in a war of words with the former chairman of the House Appropriation committee, Abdulmumuni Jibrin, after the House suspended the latter for one year when he accused the leadership of budget padding.
Mr. Jibrin had travelled to the UK shortly after he was suspended and returned to the country after some time.
Mr. Hembe said Mr. Jibrin returned to Nigeria because he was about to be arrested in the UK. He issued a statement saying “I understand that the suspended Hon. Abdulmumuni Jibrin has fled back to Nigeria after report of his ownership of five foreign accounts in Backlays Bank and property located at No. 81, Cotswold Gardens, London, NW2, 1PE in London was published,”
“I wish to remind Jibrin that there is no longer hiding place for criminals.
“He fled to UK after getting hint that anti-graft agencies in Nigeria were investigating him in order to avoid arrest and prosecution.
“Having realised that even in the UK the National Crime Agency and the Financial Intelligence Unit have already profiled him and may soon open and may soon open a case against him; he sneaked back to Nigeria.
“His days of freedom are numbered and sooner rather than later he will face the full wrath of the law.”
Mr. Jibrin swiftly responded to his former colleague via a statement in which he said,
“I returned to the country on the invitation of one of the anti-graft agencies who needed additional information from me as they were finalising investigation and ready to arraign Hon. Hembe and few others.
“I visited the agency and provided what they required and signed to stand witness.
“Hon. Hembe is obviously aware of this fact and has been panicky and running helter-skelter including trying to get the speaker to intervene and save him.
“I travelled peacefully from the Nnamdi Azikwe airport Abuja and landed at Heathrow Airport and same on my way back.
“I also enjoyed my stay in London and other part of Europe catching up with my vast international network, delivering lectures and granting interviews.
“I have responded to the lame allegations and my response are in the public glare.”
Mr. Hembe hails from Mbakpor clan in Mbake council ward of Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State. He is the second of six children in the family of the late Godwin Hembe, a professor of Political Science at the Benue State University, Makurdi.
He was born in Zaria, Kaduna State on June 22, 1975. He attended Mount Saint Gabriel’s Secondary School, Makurdi where he received a Senior School Certificate in 1992. He, thereafter, proceeded to the Benue State University, Makurdi, to study Law.
He graduated in 2001 and proceeded to the Nigeria Law School, Lagos where he obtained Barrister at Law (BL) Certificate in 2003. Mr. Hembe proceeded to the compulsory one-year youth service in Ogun State. He was posted to Nigeria Immigration Service, Abeokuta for his primary assignment.
He was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2007 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He won re-election in 2011 and moved to the APC in 2014.
He controversially picked the party’s ticket for the 2015 election and won the seat that the Supreme Court sacked him from on Friday.