- 9th Assembly lawmakers are careless -Imolites
By Sunday Awulonu
Imo State House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Judiciary and Information, Hon Dominic Ezerioha, has cleared the air on the controversial sections 484 and 485 of the Imo State Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
He told Edge Express that the Assembly passed the bill as it and that nothing was smuggled in by anybody. He advised that the Imo governor and the Attorney-General whom he described as civil servants should be left out of the matter.
On the accusation that his house members are behind the issue for not admitting as he has done, he said, “well I don’t want to be quoted in another form. It will be wrong, is unhealthy for any member of the House of Assembly to accuse the general house on an issue that they did not do. It is better the House resume and we bring out documents to show whether or not this thing happened.”
On the contention that the obnoxious clause was smuggled in, he said, “nothing was smuggled in. Quote me that I said that the House passed the bill on the 5th of March and it was sent to the governor and the governor assented to the bill that makes it a law on the 11th March 2020 and that is the extant criminal law.
“If anybody disagrees let the person come to the floor of the House and bring amendment bill so we can amend any sections if the sections are not proper. That is my position. Quote me, nobody smuggled in anything and quote me also that the governor of Imo State should be removed out of it, the Attorney General should also be removed. They are not legislators, they are executive members.”
In a related development, the deputy speaker of the House, Hon Amara Iwuanyanwu had in a release accused the sponsor of the bill Hon Frank Ugboma of playing to the gallery and condemning his position that accused Uzodimma of being responsible.
Meanwhile, our reporter stumbled and glimpsed a copy of the Assembly’s Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, March 5, 2020, from a legislator who sought anonymity where the Committee of the general house read and passed the Bill after its third reading.
In the said document, we sighted, “invoking Rule 80 (1) of the House Rule, Mr Chairman moved to the last three (3) sections of the Bill- Sections. 538, 539, and 540 were agreed. This leaves the mind guessing over the claims by Ugboma that his bill stopped only at section 372. He was also a member of the 24 house members who signed off at the end of the day’s business. What could be the reason then that the House members were denying their own actions? This is the million do.
However, many Imolites are agreed that its either they are careless not to know who, when and where the clause was inserted or are only playing to the gallery.
It would be recalled that last week Imo people have raised concern over an obnoxious clause allegedly inserted in the ACJL which empowered the governor to detain and order the release of people at his pleasure. The controversial clause is contained in Sections 484 and 485 of the law.
The originator of the bill Hon Frank Ugboma, representing Oguta State constituency has in a release denied knowledge of the clause insisting that “for the avoidance of doubt the bill that I presented had about a total of 372 sections. How and where it was amended, recreated, and reshaped into section 484 and beyond remains a mystery and a legislative wonder…”
Continuing he stated again, “no one has been able to explain to the members of the 9th House how and at what stage Section 484 was inserted into the Bill. It smacks of an evil manipulation to throw Imo people into the dungeon”
But in reaction, an agitated Desmond Ugwuh condemned the carelessness of the House members who he said are more concerned with their selfish interest wondering why they did not notice the insertion six months after the assent.
According to him, “I cannot understand why a bill presented by an honourable member could have tampered with the middle of the game and he did not raise an alarm. Where has he been, was he sleeping? That is the height of negligence,” he concluded.
Another concerned female activist who gave her name as Matilda declared that, “the Assemblymen are a bunch of disappointment who have failed woefully”. She insisted the Speaker should resign in the interest of peace and good governance of the state even as she requested for a public apology from the entire house.
Calling for the repeal of the law, Chantel Adanna Chinyere opined that “all of the Imo State house members feigning ignorance over the Imo state ACJL are funny and is an indictment to their legislative incompetence”, demanding that they should take responsibility.
The chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Aba branch, Bertram Faotu dismissed all the agitations over the bill describing the sections as nothing new because according to him it has existed for ages. He expressed surprise that many lawyers are making a great hue about the issue as if they are hearing about it for the first time.
According to him, “nowhere in the said law is it written that the governor can wake up and simply order that somebody be detained at his pleasure. Let us read properly before we criticize.”
Whatever it is, Imolites are still wondering and want to know how the ‘killer’ clause was smuggled in. Other views from people who called in had put the issue on the carelessness of Imo Assemblymen. Who played this expensive joke, Imolites want to know.