On July 8 this year, the Imo people and by extension Nigerians were jolted by an announcement made by the speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Paul Emeziem, that six lawmakers had been suspended for unparliamentary conducts.
The lawmakers suspended are Mr Kennedy Ibeh (APC Obowo), Mr Philip Ejiiogu (PDP Owerri North), Mr Uche Ogbuagu (APC Ikeduru), Mr Dominic Ezerioha (APC Oru west), Mr Anyadike Nwosu (PDP Ezinihitte Mbaise), and Mr Onyemaechi Njoku (APC Ihitte Uboma).
The speaker had said “Some members have been conducting themselves in an unparliamentary manner thereby bringing the house to ridicule. We have thoroughly examined this issue at the executive session of the house and have resolved that peace and order must continue to reign.
“The executive session has therefore recommended the suspension of the members who have engaged in different misconduct. This action is in line with ensuring that the image of the house remains as it should be, while providing a functional environment and the synergy which we are required to provide to ensure all arms of government work together,” Emeziem said.
The speaker further announced the dissolution of all standing committees of the House and a change in the office of the chief whip from Dr Arthur Egwim (APC Ideato North) to Mr Obinna Okwarra (APC Nkwerre).
However, the announcements came with heavy resistance from the affected lawmakers and the session became tense.
The speaker was whisked away by security operatives amidst sporadic gunshots as the lawmakers attempted to engage in a free for all fight.
While the six lawmakers alleged the action was illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic, the speaker denied.
Within 72 hours after the announcement, Emeziem reiterated that the lawmakers were guilty of one parliamentary misconduct, stating that there was no reason for the leadership of the House to witch hunt any member with suspension or whatever.
According to Mrs Ngozi Obiefule (APC Isu), (not affected) there was no sitting for deliberation of the unparliamentary conducts, saying “Every attempt to extract the venue for the supposed purported executive session proved abortive as the speaker failed to respond to queries made via the House WhatsApp platform”.
However, the main opposition party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of suppression, harassment, and oppression of their members in the assembly.
Imo PDP chairman, Engr Charles Ugwuh, during a press conference, insisted that PDP lawmakers were being oppressed and suppressed by principal officers. He said their allowances and entitlements had been cut by nearly 50 percent. He said the PDP lawmakers are intimidated, harassed and threatened just because of their refusal to decamp to APC.
With the suspension of the lawmakers, there has been heavy police presence at the House premises even as the implications of the suspension are beginning to unfold.