There was confusion in Enugu State yesterday as a faction of the 24-member House of Assembly moved to impeach Governor Sullivan Chime.
The two factions which emerged, produced their Speakers who presided over separate sessions with different Maces.
The first group led by the Speaker, Hon. Eugene Odoh, served Governor Chime an impeachment notice while the faction headed by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Chime Oji, suspended Odoh and swore in Hon. Chinedu Nwamba as the new Speaker.
To validly impeach Governor Chime, the Odoh faction of the House needs 16 members.
The 15 legislators who signed the impeachment notice yesterday were initially prevented from entering the House by security men and suspected loyalists of the governor.
The pro-impeachment members accused Chime of financial impropriety and forging of N12billion supplementary budget for 2012.
The impeachment notice was initially signed by 14 members of the House including the Speaker who were later joined by another lawmaker, bringing the number to16.
Later, Odoh and his colleagues found their way into the legislative chamber at 6:28am and held the sitting. Following protest by the Speaker, the policemen were ordered to allow them into the House.
The lawmakers had complained that the governor was using some members of the House to disrupt the activities of the Assembly for refusing to approve the N11billion loan requested by him.
The faction also suspended Hon. Emeka Ogbuabor and John Kevin Ukwuta, bringing the number of lawmakers on suspension to five.
They directed the Clerk of the House, Mr. Christopher Chukwurah, to serve the notice on the governor immediately and left with the Mace.
But at 7.05am, the faction led by the Deputy Speaker, Chime Oji, who was recently elected into the House of Representatives for Enugu North/South Federal Constituency began their sitting.
Oji and seven other members of the House including the Deputy Governor-elect, Hon. Cecilia Ezeilo (Ezeagu State Constituency) held their sitting in the same chamber with another Mace. Another lawmaker, Hon. Johnbull Nwagu (Udi North), thereafter, joined them to bring their number to nine.
Before Nwagu could join them at the brief sitting, Hon. John Kevin Ukwuta (Uzo Uwani) moved a motion to recall Nwagu who was suspended by the House and was seconded by Hon. Chinedu Nwamba.
The lawmakers lifted the suspension of Nwagu for misconduct and invited him to join the group bringing their number to nine.
Hon. Ukwuta thereafter moved another motion calling for the suspension of Odoh and seven others in his group including Anichukwu Nwankwo, Okechukwu Nwoke, Paul Ogbe, Nze Michael Onyeze, Chika Eneh, Theresa Egbo and S.K.E. Udo-Okoye. The motion was approved by the nine members.
The principal officers among those suspended were also stripped of their positions.
Ukwuta further moved for the nomination of other colleagues to fill the vacancies created by the suspension and nominated Chinedu Nwamba, Nsukka East Constituency to be sworn in as Speaker of the House.
The motion was adopted and Nwamba was sworn in as Speaker.
I’m still the authentic Speaker, Odoh insists
In a swift reaction to his purported suspension, Odoh insisted that he remains the Speaker of the House in spite of his purported ouster by nine members of the House who suspended him and six others in the early hours of yesterday.
Odoh told Nigerian Pilot that the nine members of the House lacked powers to suspend him or any member of the House for that matter. “I am still the Speaker of the House. What makes you think that nine members can suspend me? Yes, I am still the Speaker,” Odoh said.
He said that they had served the governor impeachment notice for gross misconduct and financial impropriety.
Efforts to get Hon. Nwamba to comment on the development proved abortive as he was neither in the House, nor responding to several calls put to his mobile phone.
Even the Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jonas Ugwuanyi, would not respond to calls to comment on the incidents that took place in the early hours of yesterday at the legislative chamber.
Prior to the yesterday drama, there had been uneasy calm in the House as it was certain that something would soon brake in the House. This is because when the House suspended the member representing Udi North Constituency for making uncomplimentary comments about the House’s overhead, some of the members refused to vote in favour while some stayed aloof.
In the same vein, when vote of confidence was passed on the speaker following a sponsored advertorial by Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Chime, Barr. Chukwudi Achife that Hon. Odo was after Chime because he failed in his bid to become governor, some of the members refused to vote for him neither did they say no.