Why we suspended lawmakers, declared a seat vacant – Imo Speaker

The Speaker, Imo House of Assembly, Kennedy Ibeh, said three lawmakers suspended on Thursday abandoned state assignments for personal businesses prior to their suspension.
“The suspension is to serve as a deterrent for dereliction of duty by members who take the business of the parliament for granted,” the speaker stated in Owerri on Friday.
The suspended members are Arthur Egwim (APC-Ideato North), Ngozi Obiefule (APC-Isu) and Obinna Okwara (APC-Nkwerre).
Mr Ibeh explained that the trio absented themselves from the plenary session specifically arranged to expedite a perusal of the state’s 2022 budget estimates.
“The suspended members acted dishonourably by disregarding the resolution of the House to which they themselves gave nod and willingly committed themselves.
“Owing to the importance of the 2022 Appropriation Bill presented to the House on December 17 by Governor Hope Uzodinma, the House unanimously decided to interface with ministries, departments and Parastatals within three days,” he stated.
The speaker added that the decision was to allow for expeditious passage of the bill which required full participation and intelligent contributions by all members.
Mr Ibeh stated that unfortunately, in utter disregard to the sacredness of the all-important state assignment, the suspended members abandoned the assignment and pursued their private businesses
“Mr Speaker and other House members who kept to the commitment were seen leaving the office between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. within the period of budget consideration.

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“This was not to the exclusion of the assembly staff that had to make extra sacrifices to keep late to ensure that the budget was delivered in record time.
“It is therefore frivolous and spurious for any of the affected members to bandy around the falsehood that he was suspended for attending burial ceremony.
“This claim becomes spurious especially as not all the members who attended the said funeral were affected by the suspension,” he stated.
The House also declared the seat of Ngor-Okpala constituency vacant.
This followed the fact that Tochi Okereke, who represents the constituency, absented himself from proceedings for more than one-third of the number of times the House sat since its inauguration in 2019.
He explained that the declaration of the seat as vacant was purely constitutional.

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“Following a motion moved by the member representing Ideato South, the House went into full debate on the merits of the motion calling for the declaration of the seat vacant owing to absenteeism,” he added.
The speaker stressed that the leadership of the assembly had made it clear that it would put the interest of Imo people first before any other interest.

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