There was uproar at the Imo State House of Assembly Complex in Owerri, the state capital, on Thursday afternoon, after the speaker, Paul Emezim, suspended the minority leader, Anyadike Nwosu, and five other lawmakers.
In an emergency plenary held under tight security, the speaker suspended the lawmakers indefinitely for what he called “unparliamentary conduct”.
Apart from the minority leader, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party, other lawmakers suspended by the speaker were: the immediate past majority leader, Uche Ogbuagu,(Ikeduru, APC), Onyemaechi Njoku(Ihitte- Uboma, APC), Kennedy Ibeh,(Obowo, APC), Philip Ejiogu,( Owerri North, PDP) and Dominic Ezerioha (Oru West, APC).
Emezim, also dissolved all standing committees of the house and removed the Chief Whip of the house, Authur Egwim, (Ideato North, APC) and replaced him with Obinna Okwara (Nkwerre, APC).
The development caused panic in the complex as the security aides to the speaker had to shoot into the air and guard Emezim, for him to make his way out of the premises, amidst protests.
Our correspondent was told by one of the suspended lawmakers, Ibeh, that “we got a message today from the clerk of the house that there would be an emergency meeting today (Thursday) having on Wednesday adjourned till July 14.
“We got to the complex by 10am but we didn’t see the speaker. We kept waiting until when the speaker came and we moved into the chambers and signed the attendance register. The speaker immediately without recourse to the rules of the house announced the dissolution of all standing committees of the house and removed the Chief Whip of house and announced, Obinna Okwara, in his place.”
“The speaker said that the decision was taken at the executive session of the house, whereas there was no executive session. A lawmaker, Onyemaechi Njoku, stood up on the special privileges rule of the house, but the speaker shut him down. I also rose to talk but he didn’t allow me to talk.
“He abandoned the rules of the house and imported his own. Other lawmakers raised concerns but the speaker didn’t care. In the end, he announced that he had suspended the six of us for unparliamentary conduct.”
Asked what was his next line of action, Ibeh said “talking about political resolution, I am a member of the All Progressives Congress and the governor is the leader of the party in the state.
“I will wait for an opportunity to speak with the governor so that I will tell my own side of the story. But talking about legal redress, that is not within my consideration for now. I have suffered many political persecutions in the parliament so I have taken it as one of those persecutions.”
One of the media aides to the speaker, Chukeudi Osuji, told our correspondent that the suspension was indefinite.
But our correspondent was told by one of the lawmakers that the “sudden and draconian” suspension of the six lawmakers was not unconnected to their disenchantment on how the finances of the third tier of government in the state were being run.