The suspension of six members of Imo State House of Assemby, has continued to resonate, as the peace of the grave yard continues to pervade the House.
Six members namely Hon Uche Ogbuagu, (Ikeduru), Hon.Phillip Ejiogu (Owerri North), Hon Kennedy Ibe (Obowo), Hon Onyemeachi Njoku (Ihitte Uboma), Hon Anyadike Nwosu (Ezinihitte Mbaise) and Hon Dominic Ezerioha, were suspended last week during plenary by the Speaker, Rt Hon.Paul Emeziem, for acts bordering on “unparliamentary misconduct”
All Standing Committees were also dissolved by the Speaker and the Chief Whip, Arthur Egwim (Ideato South) was replaced with Hon Obinna Okwara (Nkwerre)
Prior to the suspension of the lawmakers, there were clandestine moves apparently spearheaded by the executive through a principal officer of the House, “to stifle members or rather bring them under some level of control”
Sources said before the suspension of the six lawmakers, a principal officer of the House, allegedly brought the idea of altering the House rules by seeking the insertion of a clause which states that “the House can suspend a member indefinitely”
Assembly watchers said the proposed clause was perceived to be a strategy coming from the executive to “contain House members, who may decide to get out of control”
Governor Hope Uzodimma was alleged to be “uncomfortable” with majority of the House members, on the grounds that they still owe their allegiances to his political foes, such as Senator Rochas Okorocha, Rt Hon.Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume.
Five of the six members of the House from Okigwe zone, including the Speaker, Rt Paul Emeziem, were one time loyalists of Senator Araraume, who won their election to the Assembly on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
Araraume was governorship candidate of APGA in the 2019 governorship election.
Hon Kennedy Ibe, a two time member who represents Obowo State Constituency, was an ally of former Governor Rochas Okorocha and Uche Nwosu, having won re election to the House, on the platform of Action Alliance, AA. He has since joined the APC after a brief stay in the PDP when Emeka Ihedioha was governor.
Majority of the members who came to the House on the PDP platform, particularly from Owerri Zone are suspected to owe their allegiances to the Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha.
Though many of them have switched allegiance to the APC, it is strongly believed that Hon Solomon Anukam (Owerri Municipal), and one of the suspended members, Hon.Phillip Ejiogu, work in cahoots with the former governor.
Sources said the executive also became uncomfortable over “unsavory developments”, which had taken place in the House, which gave clear signals that the House was unstable, and members needed some level of checkmating.
Another source had claimed that because of the unsteady character of members in the House, the mace is mostly returned to Government House, Owerri for safe keeping. There was no independent verification of these claims.
Ugly incidents in the House in the past, such as the fisticuffs between Hon Samuel Otuibe and Hon (Mrs) Uju Onwudiwe, which resulted in the stabbing of Hon Onwudiwe by Otuibe, and the case of Hon.Hercules Okoro of Ohaji State Constituency, who was detained for allegedly bringing in thugs to Government House, to shoot and protest the impeachment of the ersthwhile Speaker, Chiji Collins, were cases which pointed to “instability in the House”
A principal officer of the House said to be very close to the Governor, was alleged to have continously expressed disappointment that the erring House members who indulged in such acts, were not severely punished for their unruly behaviours.
Members were said to have believed the principal officer and allowed the insertion of the rule, which in turn, is now used to witch hunt members, suspected to be “averse to the leadership of the House and the executive and tilting their loyalty to enemies of the governor”
One of the lawmakers who spoke to INNONEWS on condition of anonymity, after the suspension of six members, claimed that they were simply suspended for “opposing” a suggestion by the same principal officer who wanted members to congratulate the Governor for granting the House financial autonomy.
He said “We opposed the idea, because the House does not have financial independence and autonomy.
“How can we openly commend the governor for such when in reality, there is no such financial autonomy?
“This argument was on our WhatsApp platform and because we opposed the idea, we were suspended the next day
He continued “Most of the members of the House are unhappy even before six of us were suspended.
“There are issues agitating the minds of members and it is directed against the Speaker and the governor” the lawmaker told INNONEWS.
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt Paul Emeziem, said the House under his leadership has remained resolute to effective service delivery and would not condone behaviours and activities from members that is capable of bringing the State legislative arm to disrepute and ridicule.
He told journalists that the decision of the House became necessary in order to protect the image, sanctity and ensure progress of the House.