Suspension, discipline of members didnt start with current Assembly - Imo Chief Whip, Okwara


The member representing Nkwerre State Constituency in the Imo House of Assembly, Obinna Okwara, has described the suspension of six members of the House as a normal occurrence which is not alien to assemblies across the country.

The lawmaker, who doubles as the Chief Whip of the Assembly, maintained that the suspended lawmakers went contrary to the rules and regulations of the Assembly and were subsequently suspended.

The reason, according to him, was to restore decorum and implant sanity in the legislative system of the state.

The Chief Whip, in a press briefing on Friday, said that the House was not witch hunting anyone but was only concerned in maintaining the sanctity of the Assembly.

On the introduction of the term, ‘unparliamentary conduct’ in Imo State House of Assembly, he disclosed that it was one of the suspended members of the Assembly who served at the previous House that coined the phrase.

According to him, “the originator of the phrase was one of the arrowheads in the previous House. He personally coined the phrase and used it against five lawmakers who were suspended at the Acho Ihim-led 8th Assembly.

“The immediate past speaker of this 9th Assembly, Chiji Collins, was one of those who were affected at the previous House.

“You see, power is transient. You don’t see it as a lifetime thing. When you have it, don’t use it to intimidate others.

“A lot of people have been asking to know what the suspended lawmakers committed that was termed ‘unparliamentary’. Note that the legislature is an independent arm of government and also has rules and regulations guiding it. Because it is entirely a legislative affair, we know when our members go contrary to the rules.

“We are not witch-hunting anybody. The suspended lawmakers were found wanting in the rules and regulations, and were suspended in order to restore decorum in the Assembly.

“Although, one of the suspended members has appealed to the ad hoc disciplinary committee to plead for his misconduct. That was why the speaker set up that committee.

“After thoroughly hearing his case by the deputy speaker, Amara Iwuanyanwu-led ad hoc disciplinary committee, they will now take a decisive step either to reinstate the lawmaker or allow the suspension to continue.

“For those who doubt if the speaker has power to suspend a member of the House, the answer is yes. The Assembly sometime ago, amended the House rules where the speaker was given power to discipline erring members by way of suspending them or referring them to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

“All the six suspended members were part of the amendment. In fact, one of them was a co-sponsor of the amendment bill.

“So why are they shouting and crying to high heaven? Why are the PDP lawmakers talking to the media and talking all sorts of rubbish. When they were in power, they did their bidding and no one raised an eyebrow. They should simply come and apologize for their misconduct instead of making it a serious issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, an Assembly source revealed that the suspended member who allegedly coined the phrase at the previous House was Kennedy Ibeh who represents Obowo state constituency.

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