By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—The controversial anti-media Bill, which has scaled the second reading in the Imo State House of Assembly, may have hit a brick wall, as some of the alleged co-sponsors have distanced themselves from the process.
The Deputy Speaker and chief sponsor of the Bill, Mr. Ugonna Ozuruigbo, added the names of Ikechukwu Amuka (Ideato South); Lugard Osuji (Owerri Municipal); Mike Iheanaetu (Aboh Mbaise); Kenneth Agbim (Ahiazu Mbaise); Lawman Duruji (Ehime Mbano); Chinedu Offor (Onuimo); Victor Onyewuchi (Owerri West) and Uche Oguwuike (Ikeduru) as co-sponsors.
The other lawmakers who were branded co-sponsors included Bruno Ukoha (Ezinihitte Mbaise); Ngozi Obiefule (Isu); Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba); Chukwuemeka Lloyd (Owerri North); Kennedy Ibe (Obowo); Uche Ejiogu (Ihitte Uboma); Emmanuel Orie (Ohaji/Egbema); Henry Ezediaro (Oguta) and Chidi Collins (Isiala Mbano).
However, contrary to the content of the draft copy of the Bill, some of the alleged co-sponsors have distanced themselves from the document, when Vanguard sought to know their position on the Bill.
Although the lawmakers opted to speak incognito, they were however, in agreement that the Deputy Speaker acted alone.
“Honestly, I am not part of this plot to gag the press in Imo. I never knew about the Bill or acquiesced to being a co-sponsor. The spirit behind the Bill is obnoxious and should not find any place in a democracy”, the lawmaker said.
While wondering why anybody should, through the legislature, stop the free flow of information in Imo State, the lawmaker equally reasoned that “if passed into law, it will provide a very fertile ground for bad governance”.
Some others, who were reached on their mobile telephone lines, also denied knowledge of the conception and presentation of the Bill.
Asked to explain how and why their names were surreptitiously included as co-sponsors, one of the respondents said: “The chief sponsor may have done it in good faith but I expect that since the Bill is generating a lot of heat, Ozuruigbo will take another look at the document and possibly retrace his locus”.
Answering another question, the lawmaker wondered how anybody can fight the media and successfully come out of the battle unscathed.
“Can we, in all honesty, engage the media in a battle and come out of it unscathed? My dear, I am not party to this contraption”, the lawmaker said.