Abia seventh Assembly and a ruse called impeachment

Yesterday, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, some dramaturgs elected into the seventh Assembly of Abia State instigated a drama they couldn’t finish nor see the ending. Sadly.

 




It was about a failed-impeachment sponsored by now-suspended nine Assembly members at a yet-to-be-disclosed residence. Surely as expected, it made the rounds as the internet, the media spaces (traditional and modern) were abuzz. As a pragmatic civil society in the state, especially one that has kept an eye on the Seventh Assembly from its get-go, including offering constructive criticism where needed, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, FENRAD, a pro-democracy and environmental rights advocacy group, started reaching out to sources, including the media and certain government officials, just to ascertain the real situation on ground, whether the impeachment was just or otherwise.

From what FENRAD gathered as a pro-democracy group, the impeachment could much likely be a poorly written script. From the 2:50-minute clip made available to, seen and analysed by FENRAD, an honourable member representing Osisioma Ngwa North State Constituency, Hon. Kennedy Njoku, could be seen moving a motion of impeachment on the speaker for “lack of insensitivity directed towards members.” The said motion was followed by another plenary session presided over by the Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji which suspended (without benefits) the nine members who had staged staged their impeachment drama with the state’s Deputy Speaker.


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Aside from this “lack of insensitivity,” FENRAD wishes to know the other offences or offence of the speaker as he is not unimpeachable. Insensitivity or lack thereof could be a personal thing that may have to do with the working relationship between the Speaker and other lawmakers. How did this “lack of insensitivity” preclude the Speaker from performing his lawful duties for which he swore by the law to perform for Abians?

As a rights-focused group, FENRAD will be willing to see any record of abuse of office or misconduct enough to unseat the Speaker, and as a Foundation, will be the first to champion a cause of impeachment if founded on logic, not where politics is the goal of such move. Those who wish to part with the 1999 constitution should be made to be aware of the consequences of their own actions. The law is clear and express on what should end the speakership of any lawmaker. There are basically two fundamental ways to it: recall and impeachment; the other is natural occurrences like death, incapacitation or voluntary and personal resolve to quit. Again, impeaching the Speaker outside the complex of the House is much a notion of illegality. For one, how and from where did these nine lawmakers get the “mace” they used for the impeachment proceedings? How come they were nine, yet forwarded 18 names as undersigned of the impeachment petition and notice?

From what FENRAD learned, certain of the lawmakers named as signatories in the notice were not even in the country during the extra-parliamentarian plenary. Stanley Nwabuisi, member representing Ikwuano State Constituency, for example, in a statement issued and signed by his Executive Secretary, Ugochukwu Ezeribe, distanced himself from such plot pleading the alibi that he was in Canada for “legislative vacation.” Another source has it that the signature of one of the lawmakers quoted was irregular. So, question becomes, how did nine members get 18 signatures for the purported impeachment?

FENRAD is aware that no impeachment outside the House complex stands before the law. The case of Rasheed Ladoja, former governor of Oyo State, in 2006, is a clear precedent. In the said matter, the Appeal Court in a landmark judgement it awarded, posited that impeachment cannot be legal when lawmakers: sit or convene outside the House complex; when they, the lawmakers, could not produce affidavit of suspension; and when the notice of impeachment is issued to the press first. Abia today, with this, could be said to be taking backward steps to 2006 Oyo State!

Having condemned this ruse of impeachment, FENRAD calls on lawmakers to remember the three legislative functions binding on them: representation; lawmaking; and, oversight. These, the Foundation believes, are greater than heating up the polity in the name of impeachment.

There are issues the seventh Assembly will explain their roles in, in line with the duties expected of them, as already outlined. What Abians care about from a parliament that would soon be dissolved are those things lawmakers did in issues like debt stock, infrastructure, salaries and other allowances due workers, including reports of various committees like those that investigated the World Bank loan, the SME Microfinance Bank and other sundry matters the seventh Assembly had set up committees on. Most importantly being how many bills they were able to churn out in the four-year period they lasted, not non-issue like we are hearing.

Lastly, FENRAD warns those behind this sinister move to resolve their political matters by themselves, not at the expense of the state or any of its arms of government. It is petty that after having swum with the speaker for 4 years, some members now decide to impeach a lame-duck and term-limited speaker. This is much like the proverbial tortoise who after several weeks of being stuck in a mud, urged his rescuer to do fast so he gets out of the messy mud, as if he had not been enduring the mess days. Let impeachment stand on reason, not on personal or group power struggle.

Signed:
Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor
Executive Director

Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development (FENRAD Nigeria

Tel;/WhatsApp 08033383708,07062949232,

Email; fenradnigeria@yahoo.com

Info.fenradnigeria@gmail.com

Info@fenrad.org.ng.

Website; www.fenrad.org.ng

Follow us at Twitter,Facebook, Instagram and linkedlin @FENRADNIGERIA.

Foundation For Environmental Rights, Advocacy & Development(FENRAD)
Plot 101 Jubilee Road, By mosque Street, 2nd Floor,Front Aba, Abia State.
SOUTHEAST REGIONAL OFFICE;
Plot 11/13 Ezillo Avenue,Independence Layout,Enugu,Enugu State;
Tel;08033383708,07062949232,08056480504,,
Email;fenradnigeria@yahoo.com,info.fenradnigeria@gmail.com. www.fenrad.org.ng
Facebook@fenradnigeria Twitter@fenradnigeria Skype;@fenradnigeria.

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