By Leonard Okachie
The Abia State House of Assembly on Tuesday suspended the Deputy Speaker, Mr Ifeanyi Uchendu, and eight other members, over the purported impeachment of the Speaker, Mr Chinedum Orji.
Orji, who presided over the plenary session, announced the immediate suspension of the lawmakers for one month with no benefits.
Other suspended members included Kennedy Njoku (Osisioma North), Chukwudi Apugo (Umuahia East) and Aaron Uzodike (Aba North).
The rest were Thomas Nkoro (Obingwa West), Okey Igwe (Umunneochi), Chikwendu Kalu (Isiala Ngwa South) Obinna Ichitta (Aba South) and Chijioke Chukwu (Minority Leader – Bende North).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some members of the House had by 9 am on Tuesday, purportedly suspended the speaker for “his insensitivity to the welfare of members and other sundry activities”.
NAN learnt that 16 of the 24-member house had allegedly signed for the speaker’s impeachment that took place at a guest house in Umuahia metropolis.
At the venue, the former Speaker, Kennedy Njoku, had moved the motion for the speaker’s removal and was seconded by Chijioke Chukwu.
The meeting was presided over by the suspended deputy speaker.
In a video that went viral, the members had in a voice vote unanimously endorsed the speaker’s impeachment over so many allegations levelled against him.
They had also elected Apugo as the new speaker.
But, hours after the purported impeachment, Orji convened an emergency plenary session at the assembly complex, where nine members, including himself, resolved to suspend the other nine members.
The motion for their suspension was moved by Jerry Uzosike (Umuahia South), seconded by Solomon Apulonu (Majority Leader – Obingwa East).
NAN reports that only members who were physically participated in the purported impeachment were suspended.
Those whose signatures were allegedly obtained were exonerated, pending further investigations.
Subsequently, the house replaced the suspended deputy speaker with Mandela Obasi, who was immediately sworn in as the new Deputy Speaker.
Orji also informed the Commissioner of Police and Director of State Services that only certified members would be allowed access into the hallowed chamber.
The house, thereafter, set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged misconduct of the suspended members and submit its report in one week.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the plenary session, Orji said that he had faced several humiliations as a speaker.
He said: “They should give the evidence of my financial recklessness.
“They want me to always be at loggerheads with the Governor of the state and I told them that I don’t need to always do that over their own welfare.
“If I decided that I’m no more interested in doing that fight, that it should be a collective effort, I don’t think I’m wrong in doing that.”
(Adapted from a NAN report)