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Desecration of the Hallowed Chamber of the Imo State House of Assembly; A Call For Caution

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Egejuru Austin T.

The unpalatable, indecorous, inglorious, bigoted and travesty of democratic, and parliamentary ethos, and the sacrilegious desecration of the hallowed chamber of the Imo State House of Assembly, by unknown gunmen and their undemocratic enablers, within and outside the parliament, on Thursday, the 8th day of July, 2021, has again painted Imo State in bad light in the committee of progressive states in Nigeria.

It is sad to note that since the coming of the present government in Imo State, the Imo State House of Assembly has been so emasculated, so vitiated, obfuscated, and colonized by external forces, especially the executive arm of government.

Verily, it is shameful to say developments from the State House of Assembly have again reduced the Assembly to a perceived, if not a real annex of Imo State Government House. A situation that ridicule elected members of the Assembly as errand men and women of the Chief Executive of the state.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the leadership of the Imo State House of Assembly have reduced the Assembly to a rubber stamp in the hand of the executive.

It is equally common knowledge that the Assembly has become abashedly subservient to the executive, and the leadership has willingly submitted the independence and sanctity of the institution of the state legislature to the executive for a pot of porridge.

The current development in the Imo State House of Assembly where some validly elected members of the Assembly were inadvertently sent on indefinite legislative sabbaticals with no consideration to the people they represent, was constitutionally defective, and at worst, undemocratic. Such parliamentary coup can only be obtained under the current jackboot administration in Imo.

The Assembly’s leadership resort to kangaroo suspension of Imo Six Lawmakers without giving them the opportunity to be fairly heard, offends their constitutionally guaranteed basic rights to fear hearing, and presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

When also juxtaposed with the subsisting ruling of Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, of the Abuja Federal High Court, in the case of the Nigeria Senate vs Omo-Agege, the leadership of the Imo State House of Assembly is constitutionally barred from suspending it’s members for a period exceeding 14 days. This is without prejudice to it’s constitutional powers of disciplining her members, provided such disciplinary measures comply with the provisions of the law.

Of a truth, nothing good is expected from a legislature that is irredeemably tied to the apron string of the executive, nor one that is at the beck and call of the executive. Not decency. Not morality. Not proactivity. Not obedience to the rule of law.

Doing all the biddings of the executive, passing all Executive Bills without scrutiny, does not justify the authority and responsibilities of the legislature as an independent arm of government. Instead, it diminishes and debases the Assembly, and alienates it completely from the masses.

The common assumption of ordinary Imolites is that the impact of the Imo State House of Assembly is seldomly, or not felt in the state with regards to the business of the government in Imo State.

The nonchalant and negative dispositions of the Assembly on critical issues of governance in the state, including the mortgaging of the independence of the Assembly to the executive, leaves so much to be desired.

From all indications, one may not be wrong to adjudge the Assembly of being ineffective, inefficient, and redundant over time. The open confession of a member of the Assembly that “Private Member Bills are not called up for debate at plenaries”, and the accusation that the leadership of the Assembly only convened plenary when there was Executive Bill to consider bears eloquent testimony that the executive arm of Imo State Government is knelling on the neck of the Legislature, leaving the Assembly gasping for breath.

It is equally regrettable to recall that discrimination and division along party lines has diminished the value and importance of Imo State House of Assembly as the bastion of democracy in the state.

Nothing can further be unjust and discriminatory than having members of the Assembly who are validly elected by their different state constituencies, denied equal and fair representation in the Assembly on account of political parties they belong, and the degree of their loyalties to the executive.

Discrimination such as;

  • Unfair payment of allowances to the members of the Imo State House of Assembly; with the opposition PDP members receiving only half of their monthly allowances and/or entitlement, while their counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) receive their entitlements in full.
  • Non inclusion of the opposition PDP members of the House in the ad-hoc committee constituted to fix the allowances of the House Members.
  • Sidelining of the opposition PDP members of the House of Assembly whenever certain policy actions are to be taken, as they are always kept in the dark when certain decisions are made, which included;

(a). Decisions on the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives and,

(b) Recruitment in the Board of Internal Revenue of the state.

  • Non-payment of the allowances of the Minority Principal Officers of the
    State House of Assembly, while the Principal Officers of the APC House members are 100% remunerated, are a few of many factors that polarize and unsettle the Assembly.

The latest charade and brigandage that took place at the Assembly complex is indeed another step backwards. It is abrasive, preposterous, uncivilized and archaic and should be condemned by all well meaning Imolite.

The leadership of the Assembly should as a matter of necessity and allegiance to the rule of law, conduct the business of the Assembly within the ambit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Imo State House of Assembly Standing Rules.

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