BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI – A detachment of personnel from Imo State Police Command, yesterday took over the State House of Assembly, following what careful watchers of political trend in the state called palpable attempt to impeach Governor Ikedi Ohakim and the House leadership.
A police armoured vehicle was parked in front of the Assembly gate, while seven fully loaded pick up vans, including that of the Commander, Police Mobile Force, NPF 9794 B, were positioned at various points near the legislature.
All vehicles plying the area, as well as pedestrians were forcefully diverted, while journalists were not allowed into the Assembly premises.
The situation was so tense that the policemen on duty barred the Speaker, Chief Goodluck Nanah Opiah, and his Deputy, Sir Jonas Okeke, from entering into the Assembly Complex.
Vanguard investigations revealed that although the House at its last sitting took a long adjournment, no fewer than 21 lawmakers signed a document to immediately reconvene.
All the signatories to the document, who spoke to Vanguard on why they were spoiling for war against their leadership and the governor, claimed they had been taken for a ride.
They all claimed that all their entitlements had not been paid and that all promises made by the outgoing governor remained unfulfilled.
The lawmakers equally said they will repeal a number of the Bills already signed into law by Ohakim, adding that the change of the state university’s name from Evan Enwerem University to Imo State University had already been effected.
Vanguard also gathered that the governor-elect, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, met with some of the aggrieved lawmakers into the early hours of yesterday and feelers from the meeting showed that he supported the move by the legislators.
At about 12 noon yesterday, one of the lawmakers, Prince Ugochukwu Nzekwe, confirmed that the state Commissioner of Police was talking with them in his office.
Although he did not give details of the discussion with the Police Commissioner, Nzekwe remained resolute that the speaker should regard himself as sacked, if and whenever the siege on the House was relaxed.
All efforts made by Vanguard to reach the speaker and Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Linus Nwaiwu, a deputy superintendent of police, DSP, failed as their lines could not be reached.
… lawmakers react* We’ll not impeach, but…
The aggrieved members of Imo State House of Assembly have reacted angrily to what they called unceremonious sealing up of the Assembly complex by the state police command.
Addressing a press conference on behalf of his colleagues, the member for Nwangele State constituency, Mr. Amaechi Nwaoha, lamented that there were a lot of unfinished jobs that required the attention of the House.
Giving a graphic account of how the Assembly was sealed, Nwaoha recalled that the House had its last sitting on Tuesday, adding that the Speaker, Chief Goodluck Nanah Opiah, re-convened the House when a number of the lawmaker had left the premises and adjourned to 31 May.
He said: “We were surprised when we gathered from the state Commissioner of Police that the speaker further adjourned reopening till 2 June. We met and agreed to follow the House Rules which gave us the latitude to reconvene the House.
“We already have the signatures of 19 members and served same to the speaker,” he added.
The lawmaker said: “We have not got salaries in the last two months. We have also heard that Imo State is owing United Bank for Africa the sum of over N6 billion. We needed to confirm the veracity or otherwise of this rumour about the finances of the state.”
He denied that the lawmakers were planning to impeach Governor Ikedi Ohakim and the Speaker, but quickly added that if the speaker became an impediment, they will not hesitate to remove him.
He said: “We have talked with the Police and State Security Services’ boss. We are hoping that they will remove the blockade on our premises. We have also talked with the governor-elect, Mr. Rochas Okorocha, but not as a House.
“We have every reason to work with him, irrespective of his belonging to a different political party.”
Reacting through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kelechi Mejuobi, the speaker explained: “Security men took over the Assembly complex because of alleged plot by some members with their thugs and collaborator, to unleash mayhem on the other members of the House.”
Opiah further said that their allegations and resolutions to sit are in bad faith and wondered why they should unleash their act now.
“Why did they act or react to issues raised during the last plenary session? Their denial of not being on a witch hunt mission is a lie as they are acting the script of external forces who are pursuing political vendetta against the outgoing government. Agents of destabilization are at work,” Opiah said.