By Martin Opara

Some members of the Imo State House of Assembly, have raised their voices in defence of the controversial Administration of the Criminal Justice Law, 2020, that has elicited mass condemnation and public outcry from a cross section of Imo people.

Rt.Hon. Arthur Egwim, member for Ideato North state constituency and Chairman, House of Assembly committee on Public Complaints, while addressing journalists, alongside his colleagues, including Hon. Uju Onwudiwe, member for Njaba state constituency, Hon. Onyemaechi of Owerri West state constituency, Hon. Chigozie Nwaneri, of Oru East, Hon. Johnson Duru, of Ideato South and Hon. Emezie of Onuimo state constituency, averred that the law which  according to them, passed the first, second, third reading, was passed after thorough screening and ratification by the team of seasoned legal luminaries constituted by the Chief Judge and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state.

They stated that the controversial sections 484 and 485 of the law are in tandem with relevant portions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended. “The clauses were only domesticated and fine tuned, to suit our environment and peculiarity. The 36 states of the country have adopted this law without qualms. We don’t really understand why it is being politicized to heat up the polity”.

Hon. Egwim, who convened the press briefing, stated that, the bill is neither targeted at undoing nor aimed at pleasing anybody, stressing that, “it was first muted by the 8th assembly, where it was not concluded, hence, it was resurrected in the 9th assembly. Besides, it is not an executive bill”.

He also stated that he convened the press conference , in his capacity as Chairman, House Committee on Public complaints, in response to the mass controversy, and public outcry the bill has generated, since it was signed into law by the Governor.  He also expressed concern about his name and reputation being ridiculed because of misinformation and misunderstanding of the positive provisions of the law which is aimed at enhancing diligent and equitable dispensation of justice, and wondered why critics of the law refused to highlight it’s excellent provisions and are concentrating on hyping the purported flaws. “As a ranking member of the state legislature, I can’t fold my hands and watch while the confusion rages”.

He advised the originators of the bill to move a motion or formally present another bill for the amendment of any distasteful portions or clauses instead of making them issues or cheap political blackmail.

Hon. Uju Mbadiwe said that, contrary to the antics and gimmics of some disgruntled members of the opposition, the law has very good aspects and provisions that takes care of the needs of the people. “For instance nobody can be arrested or detained without warrant of arrest or on flimsy excuses” as obtainable in past”.

Hon. Dele Onyemaechi representing Owerri West state constituency stated that, “the whole thing is being hyped and sensationalized by the opposition. He urged Imo people “to ignore and disregard their desperate shenanigans aimed at distracting the attention of the Hope Uzodinma shared prosperity government, stressing that, “if they feel that there is anything wrong with the law, let them move a motion for the so-called controversial clauses to be amended”.