By Anayo Okoli & Ugochukwu Alaribe
UMUAHIA—THE Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Martins Azubuike was yesterday impeached by members of the House.
Twenty out of the 24 members signed his impeachment notice but 19 of them sat at the plenary when he was impeached. 16 members make up the quorum for the House to sit.
A new Speaker, Bishop Kennedy Njoku, representing Osisioma Ngwa North was immediately elected to replace Azubuike. He got 16 votes to defeat his opponent, Chikwendu Kalu, representing Isiala Ngwa South who got three votes, including the vote of the leader of the House, Chinedum Orji.
Azubuike’s impeachment motion which was brought under matter of urgent public importance by Hon. Solomon Akpulonu, representing Obingwa East constituency, was seconded by Hon. Ifeanyi Uchendu from Ohafia South.
In the motion, the former Speaker was accused of financial recklessness, high handedness and insensitivity to the members and staff of the House as well as abuse of office.
The deputy speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe presided over the session. After the motion was moved and seconded, the clerk of the House called out the names of those who signed the impeachment notice with each of them replying with “I signed”.
Vanguard learned that this was the fourth impeachment attempt on the Speaker who was said to have been saved in the past by the leader of the House.
Speaking to journalists, the mover of the motion said that they had on occasions, advised the former speaker on some of the allegations but he never listened to them.
The former speaker who had earlier called journalists to say his side of the story later called off the briefing.
Signs of trouble in the House showed in the morning when an unusual presence of police men were noticed at the gate and premises of the House.
Before the impeachment, members had met for over two hours trying to resolve the matter by trying to extract an agreement from the former speaker that he would not preside over in a scheduled sitting of the House today.
It was learned that members wanted to give him a soft landing until he attempted to take away the Mace, an action that annoyed the members who were there and they decided to go ahead with the impeachment.