The boat of the 8th Assembly Imo State Legislative House, Owerri may soon hit the rocks if the current waves of alleged financial scandals and improprieties of fund belonging to some lawmakers are not properly handled by Governor Rochas Okorocha. The leadership of the house is accused of meddling with allowances of their colleagues in order to bend their knees and tow the nuances of the executives
Sources close to the Assembly Complex have steadily reveal that the law makers have raised their fingers up to question why there was a unilateral deduction of N1million recently in their respective monthly allowance by the leaders of the house and also a previous deduction of the sum of N2.5million from the funds meant for the construction or establishment of ICT centre in each of the 27 local government areas of Imo State in 2016.
Our sources stated that the burning issue presently rocking the Assembly leadership is already on the table of the State Chief Executive Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who has pledged to wade into the matter.
Information gathered from the Assembly indicate that the leadership has not been at ease with at least four legislators who had been very vocal in questioning some of the actions and utterances of the speaker, a situation that could have earned four of these “erring” members suspension or deprivation of vital committee roles in the House.
It was alleged that it was for being vocal that Hon. Chief Lawman Duruji from Ehime Mbano LGA and Hon. Mrs. Ngozi Obiefule of Isu LGA were some time in the past suspended while others like Hon. Chika Madumere and Hon Uju Onwudiwe of Njaba are yet to escape from the heat of the hammer of the Speaker of the House even when they have been reduced to nothing in the House, just as ordinary bench warmer by the high handed Acho Ihim’s leadership.
It was revealed that recently, the lawmakers, to their utter disappointments, noticed a total deduction of N1million from their monthly allowances and when they wanted to know the reason, the Speaker Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim could not give any cogent response but declared it was an order from above.
When some of the lawmakers confronted the State Chief Executive, Owelle Rochas Okorocha with the matter, he declared that he knew nothing of such order and strange deduction with a pledge to reach the House Leadership on the matter and up to now, nothing has been heard of the matter, fueling speculation that the unkind maltreatment of the select lawmakers has Okorocha’s endorsement.
It was also revealed that early in 2016, the Executive Governor granted the execution of an ICT centre in each of the 27 state constituencies at a stipulated amount but that at the end of the day, each of the contractors handling the projects were shortchanged to the tune of N2.5million leading to poor quality execution of jobs by the contractors.
Investigations revealed that it was for her being vocal in the House that Hon. Uju Onwudiwe who was the former chairman of the House Committee on Assembly service was reassigned because she wanted to know the actual amount appropriated for the assembly services by the executive, a question the leadership of the House refused to answer to date.
The interesting thing about the episode is that most of the affected members are of the ruling party (APC) and have been made to become redundant and frustrated to the point of adding no value to their career and their constituencies.
When contacted on the latest development and wranglings in the House, Hon. Chika Madumere representing Nkwerre LGA confirmed that his allowance was actually deducted by as much as N1 million for some undisclosed reasons, “when I confronted, the Speaker could not give a tangible response rather he was heard declaring that the order is from above”.
However Hon. Madumere stated that “as a person I cannot be in a place where I cannot enjoy freedom of expression as a lawmaker but I will continue to speak out, if they like let them take all my earnings but I assure them that all my allowances must be paid and the balance of my constituency project of N2.5million must sooner or later be paid to my constituency”.
He further reiterated, “I am a lawmaker representing the great people of Nkwerre, the same as others representing their local governments. I do not see any reason why a fellow lawmaker in the House would want to reduce other lawmakers to puppets or nothing. Everybody must not share in your views.
He stated that the House of Assembly is not a secondary school and should not be run as a secondary school by the Speaker.
Others who confirmed the deduction in their allowances but refused to speak further for fear of the harmer include Hon. Mrs. Ngozi Obiefule and Lawman Duruji who could not comment further for the sake of reprisal attacks from Ihim but hopes to speak at the appropriate time, admitting that the matter is before the executive governor.
Meanwhile, the speaker, Rt. Hon Acho Ihim is battling on all fronts to slave off a move to recall him from his constituents at Okigwe LGA. He recently dismissed all his political aides and personal staff feigning lack of funds. In a text message to the affected staff, Acho Ihim who wrote through his Chief of Staff, Barr. Emma Nwosu, said “Goodmorning Nwanne, I have been asked by the Speaker to ask every staff of his to stop work until he clears the backlog owed to us all. This took effect from 1st April 2017. Between now and Wednesday of new week, you will be called to come for the one owed to you and if you are not called back, please do not come back as he doesn’t want to continue owing!!”.
Efforts to reach the speaker of Imo State House of Assembly for his comment proved abortive as he nether replied text nor took his calls.