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Despite the ongoing strike by staff of the state and national assemblies nationwide, who are seeking autonomy, the Imo State House of Assembly led by the patient medicine dealer turned legislator, Hon. Paul Emeziem on Friday May 14, 2021, approved another loan of Ten Billion naira (N10b) for Governor Hope Uzodinma in flagrant disregard of house rules.

According to the legislators who were said to have gained entry to the chambers through the back gate, the loan is to be used to supplement the money paid to Cranenburg Construction Company, the firm handling the Owerri-Orlu and Okigwe road projects.

Most of the legislators who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity frowned at the way and manner the loan request and it’s subsequent approval was handled, more so at a time that staff of the house of assembly were on strike.

“It was gathered that some of the legislators received text messages informing them that the sitting will commence by 11am while the house was already in session by 9am. A former Speaker of the house was in attendance, probably, to guide them on how to perfect the loan deal and pass other bills slated for that day”.

There are also speculations that chairman of the Parliamentary Staff Association and the Clerk of the house who ought to have refused the legislators entry into the House of Assembly complex on the grounds that the staff are strike, were compromised hence, they looked the other way, as the legislators sneaked in through the back gate.

Commenting on the development, the Minority of the Imo State House of Assembly, Barr. Anyadike Nwosu, representing Ezinihitte state constituency confirmed that the house actually approved the loan request. “But I was not there when it was approved. I only met them when they were about passing the Imo Security Organization Bill.They sent us text messages for sitting scheduled for 11am by 10am, when they had already commenced sitting by 9am? Besides, staff of the Imo House of Assembly like their counterparts nationwide, are on strike. That is an aberration”.

Hon. Anyadike further said, “I only read about the N10b approved for the governor on the pages of the newspaper.As a principal officer,I was supposed to be given a copy of the loan request for perusal and necessary input, but that was not done. It is unfortunate and regrettable that minority members of the 9th Imo State House of Assembly are treated like non entities. The APC lawmakers have shared our money. When I complained, they said we have no say. I even wrote to Hon. Uche Ogbuagu when he was the Majority Leader but he was unable to address the injustice meted out to the minority lawmakers. As far as they are concerned, it is immaterial whether or not the minority lawmakers who like them, also represent their constituents make any input or not. That is why we are not carried along in decision making processes, deliberations and other activities of the house that should be all inclusive, in the over all interest of Imo people who we individually and collectively represent”.

Some of the APC lawmakers who pleaded anonymity told this reporter that they were also informed late of the meeting, hence most of them were either absent or were not there when the loan was approved because they came late.

Aside the approval of the N10b loan for the governor, other Bills passed same day , are; a Bill for the establishment of Imo Security Organization which passed through the third reading, the list of new chairmen and members of  Commissions in the state which was also approved without thorough and necessary scrutiny.

Effort to reach the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Hon. Duru Johnson who represents Ideato South State Constituency was futile as he did not respond to calls put to his mobile phone.

When also contacted,the Chief Press secretary to the speaker,Mr Collins Osuji declined comment,saying that issues that concern the House of Assembly is for the house committee chairman on information to handle.

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper, sometime ago, reported how the Hon. Paul Emeziem led Imo State House of Assembly, approved a N10 billion naira loan request for the governor in executive session attended by less than twelve lawmakers instead of at plenary to enable other legislators make in put.

When contacted then, in respect of the first N10b the former Deputy Speaker, Hon. Barr. Okey Nwakamma representing Mbaitoli State constituency said, “I am aware of the loan request which they said is for the provision of infrastructural facilities. We have no problem about that. But it is illegal and unparliamentarily for few members of the legislature to deliberate on and approve such loan request without the consent of other lawmakers whose opinions should equally be accommodated.

Other legislators who also commented on the development at that time, accused the Speaker, Hon. Emeziem of running the legislature as a private estate and as an appendage of the executive.

Some legislators and staff of the assembly who commented on the current unfolding development also berated the Speaker who they said, “has manifested all the attributes that make him an Onwa “Oyoko boy”. What is the justification for approving another loan of N10b that was not captured in the 2021 budget for the governor, few months after the initial N10 billion naira was approved for him”.

This method of approving loans that run into tens of billions for the governor at executive session or by few caucus members by the Paul Emeziem led Imo legislature is the most glaring and flagrant abuse of legislative ethics and procedure. It is not only an aberration and a blunder but a bad precedent that will always question the integrity of the 9th House of Assembly in the state.