By Stanley Okehie
Chief Whip, Imo State House of Assembly and Member for Nkwerre Constituency, Obinna Okwara has cleared the air as to the real reasons why six of his colleagues were recently slammed with suspension.
Okwara also addressed the concerns raised by the PDP Minority Caucus who had at a world press conference earlier appealed to people of good conscience to intervene on the suspension of some of their colleagues. The PDP had at the media conference called on the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Paul Emeziem to address Imo people on what constituted unparliamentary conducts of the suspended members, where and when the unparliamentary conduct took place.
The Chief Whip who addressed a press conference weekend alongside the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Kanayo Onyemaechi (Owerri West), Hon. Eddy Obinna (Aboh Mbaise) and Hon. Chiagozie Nwaneri (Oru East) said the suspension of the six lawmakers became necessary following the threats by one of the suspended lawmakers (name withheld) to shut down the Assembly Complex until he was satisfied, just as another threatened the office of the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Paul Emeziem and almost engaged him (the Speaker) in a physical combat.
“In the office of Mr. Speaker, one of them threatened that, that day will be the last day of Mr. Speaker’s reign as the head of the legislative head. It almost got physical”, Okwara said.
Okwara also accused the suspended lawmakers of having nocturnal meetings and exhibiting conducts that were totally unparliamentary during and after sittings.
The Chief Whip also stressed the Speaker’s powers to discipline erring members before referring them to Ethics and Privileges Committee.
“In Imo State House of Assembly, no constituency is bigger than the other, but when you come to the membership of the House, the Speaker is the primus inter pares, simply put, first among equals, so he wields some disciplinary powers.”
“…We amended the House rules to give the Speaker a little teeth to bite before the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, atleast, I can remember that one of these suspended Members co-sponsored that motion. I do not know what he forgot at that point but our rules empower the Speaker to apply some measures of discipline while referring the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges or an adhoc committee so constituted.”
Okwara therefore advised the suspended lawmakers to approach the adhoc committee to seek redress, as all standing committees had been dissolved.
He lashed out on the opposition members that claim the House is an appendage of the executive, informing them that Members of the House were elected to make laws for the good governance of the State and not to fight the executive.
The Chief Whip also dismissed as untrue the news that 12 lawmakers embarked on a retreat in Abuja, leaving others behind and advised Journalists not to rely on hearsay but to always carry out investigations before reporting on any issue(s).